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Salvaging Damaged Records

Water and mold are the most common forms of damage to records on campus. Records stored in basements, storage rooms, and mechanical rooms are particularly vulnerable to flooding and mold outbreaks. The longer the delay in addressing these situations, the worse the damage will be. If your records are damaged by water and/or mold the University Archives recommends that your department take the following steps to mitigate the damage to its records: 

  1. Act quickly--Time is critical

    Mold usually blooms on wet documents in approximately 48 hours. Documents with mold are much more expensive to salvage than documents that have simply gotten wet.
  2. Contact the University Archives immediately

    Call the Archives at 6-4686 and we will put you in contact with a records salvage vendor that removes the water-damaged records from campus in order to dry and clean them.
  3. Decide what you need to save--quickly

    Salvaging damaged records is an expensive process; try to determine if any of the damaged records can simply be thrown away. However, mold grows on wet records quickly so these decisions must be made within one day. The records salvage vendor can freeze records; this halts mold growth and gives you extra time to decide what to do with the damaged records. However, records that are frozen sometime stick together and are difficult to examine. Therefore, you want to have a good knowledge of the records ahead of time.
The Archives recommends the following steps to help prevent damage to your department's records:
  1. Keep an inventory of records in storage

    Keeping an inventory of all the records your department has stored on campus will give you the knowledge you need ahead of time to make informed decisions about which records to salvage.
  2. Periodically check all of your department's records

    Periodically check all of your department's stored records to ensure that they remain in good physical condition. Mold can grow on records even without a flood; it only needs a humid environment with little air circulation, to grow.
  3. Do not store records that your department does not need to keep

    Storing records that can be disposed of takes up valuable storage space on campus and may force others to store important records in inappropriate, insecure areas.
  4. Never store records directly on the floor

    Keeping records off the floor will often keep records dry in the case of minor flooding. Store records on wood pallets or, ideally, shelving.
  5. Consider using a records storage vendor

    Records storage vendors store records in environmentally safe and secure facilities. The University Archives may be able to recommend a records storage vendor for your department.