[AIC National Collections Emergency News]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Mold Damage to Gulf Coast collections -- report from Mississippi volunteer team 1

The following is a report by Gary Frost from volunteer AIC-AASLH Mississippi
Team 1. Gary is a conservator with the University of Iowa Libraries. The
team was on site from 9/22/05-9/29/05.



From: Frost, Gary
Date: 2005/09/30 Fri PM 03:22:26 EDT
Subject: Mold Damage to Gulf Coast collections

The American Association of State and Local History recently sponsored a
mobile damage assessment and response team that toured the coast region of
Mississippi providing assistance to twelve libraries and museums. Members of
the September 22-29 team were Joy Barnett, Texas Association of Museums,
Ashley Barnett, Fire and Rescue, Burnet, TX, Randy Silverman, University of
Utah and Gary Frost University of Iowa. Among our observations were some
factors that influenced, for good or ill, the mold damage to collection
materials. There were item housing or enclosure factors, building factors
and behavioral factors.

As contrasted with adjoining paper enclosures, Tyvek envelopes Nurtured mold
bloom of their contents. Glazed exhibit cases nurtured extensive mold as
contrasted with the condition of adjoining materials that were not cased.
Glazed wall mounted materials were also at high risk. In general, item
labeling on boxes or in tabular exposure, was more at risk for mold bloom
and damage than the enclosed items. We advised that soaked items should not
be spread out directly on polyethylene covered assembly platforms. A wicking
under-layment is needed to prevent an interface for mold bloom.

Materials stored in rooms with only a single access are difficult to
ventilate. A useful approach is to evacuate items from the lowest shelves
producing an air circulation route. Plywood hurricane board-ups remained in
place inhibiting building ventilation. Following flooding, these could be
unscrewed and levered opened at the bottom. The historical, top hinged storm
louver is an admirable design in this regard; enabling quick sealing and
subsequent quick ventilation. After four weeks without electricity,
ecologies of building interiors Mirror those of outdoors except that
interiors are dark and still. To inhibit mold, sunlight and shore breezes
are needed.

An inappropriate "germ theory" was generally applied to prevent mold
propagation. While ventilation and drying is needed to arrest mold bloom,
staff behavior frequently resulted in isolation and even discard of molded
materials to prevent "contamination" of undamaged materials. It should be
emphasized that ventilation will "kill" and will not "spread" mold. Zip-lock
bags were occasionally used to isolate moldy books, further nurturing the

We also had a few general observations. Evidentially, salt water inhibits
mold activity as is indicated by masses of materials that remained moist,
but unblemished by mold bloom four weeks after the flooding. Where mold
bloom is present, the responding preservation workers should exemplify the
safe handling and processing of moldy materials. Historical and antiquarian
archives which are preferentially attacked by mold could also be
preferentially neglected or undiscovered during evacuation of undamaged

Following appropriate permission we will be happy to share assessments and
photo documentation.

   ** List of sites visited by AIC volunteers Gary Frost and Randy Silverman **

Here is a list of the sites accessed by Randy Silverman and myself.
    Old State Capitol Museum - Jackson MS - 9/23/2005
    Laurel Jones County Library  Laurel MS  9/24/2005
    University Southern Mississippi- Campus Library  Hattiesburg MS- 9/24/2005
    Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum  Biloxi MS  9/25/2005
    Beauvoir (Jefferson Davis Home)  Biloxi MS  9/25/2005
    Old Spanish Fort  Pascagoula MS  9/26/2005
    Jackson County Archives  Pascagoula MS  9/26/2005
    Walter Anderson Museum of Art  Ocean Springs MS -9/26/2005
    Biloxi Public Library  Biloxi MS -9/27/2005
    Gulfport Public Library - Gulfport MS  9/27/2005
    Hancock County Courthouse  Bay St. Louis MS - 9/27/2005
    Hancock County Historical Society  Bay St. Louis MS  9/27/2005
    University Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast  Long Beach MS  9/28/2005
    Pass Christian MS  (library not located) 9/28/2005>

Gary Frost
University of Iowa Libraries
100 Main Library
Iowa City, IA, 52242

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [AIC National Collections Emergency News]