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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

The History of Water Damage to Libraries

8/10/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Carrollton understands the significance of a personal home library. When disaster strikes, the certified technicians take great care to clean and restore the precious volumes.

The water removal professionals at SERVPRO of Carrollton understand that homeowners highly value their personal collections, including their home libraries. Books have played a prominent role as vehicles for the preservation and transmission of knowledge and culture for over four millennia. As long as the information was chiseled into stone or etched onto a piece of broken pottery, exposure to moisture and water damage was not much of a concern. The use of parchment, papyrus, and paper led to the proliferation of books and the creation of libraries, large and small, public and private. With the use of organic materials as writing media by scribes, moisture control and water damage restoration became very important for ancient library curators. Today, protecting books from moisture and water damage is just as essential for owners of private libraries.

Today, well over 300,000 public libraries dot the globe. Thousands of governmental, university, museum, sacred, and research collections, along with film and personal home libraries, add to this number. The British Library houses over 15 million books and other archived materials. In the United States, the Library of Congress boasts 838 miles of bookshelves, and the institution is home to some 39 million books and other print materials.

A single incident of water damage in a public or private library can be a financial catastrophe, depending on the number, value, and rarity of the damaged volumes.

The Number of Books Affected by Water Damage

The collection of important documents was a vital part of both religious and political culture. Libraries were as numerous as the various cultures throughout recorded history. No known historical catalog of water damage to libraries is available, but the annals of history do shed some light on the frequency and extent of the damage that water and excess moisture has inflicted on books and documents.

Florence, Italy, was hit by severe flooding in 1966, resulting in extensive damage to some of the rarest and most valuable books ever written and housed in a library. The Magliabechi collection suffered damage to 100,000 rare volumes, along with other documents. More than 200,000 volumes at the University of Florence were submerged under floodwater.

In the United States, floodwaters struck Case Western Reserve University Library in 1975. The magnitude of the devastation was sobering. The restoration of 40,000 books and 50,000 maps cost over half a million dollars.

Torrential rains also take a toll on library collections. In 2006, heavy precipitation inundated the basement of Sidney Memorial Public Library in New York. In 2004, a tsunami hit South and Southeast Asia, and the surging waters devastated several libraries. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 destroyed approximately 1 million homes and did an estimated $150 billion in property damage. Nearly 100 public libraries were severely damaged or destroyed. In China, hot water from a burst pipe damaged around 21,000 artifacts, including ancient books.

Temperature and moisture control are crucial for the well-being of any library collection. Yet, libraries are faced with numerous water damage risk hazards, including:

  • Fire suppression
  • Sprinkler system malfunctions
  • Frozen pipes that burst
  • Faulty HVAC systems
  • Hurricanes, storm surges, and other severe weather
  • Plumbing leaks and sewage backups
  • Poorly managed temperature and moisture levels in the facility

These water damage hazards put all libraries, including home libraries, at risk. A home library may contain rare, antiquated books with a high dollar value, while some volumes may possess great sentimental value. When a home library suffers water damage, the homeowner can entrust the cleanup, drying, and restoration of even the most delicate volumes to the professionals at SERVPRO of Carrollton.

SERVPRO Provides Water Damage Restoration for Home Libraries

By following archival best practices and taking a proactive approach to emergency preparedness and early intervention, the owner of a home library can avoid a disaster and reduce the need for water-damaged book restoration services.

The SERVPRO team is certified in the drying, cleaning, and care of water-damaged books and documents. They use special equipment, cutting-edge technologies, advanced cleaning techniques, and EPA-approved products in the cleaning and restoration process. Books affected by water damage are delicate, requiring careful, tender attention that can come only from a trained and experienced professional. A critical component in the restoration process is a rapid response. The longer the mitigation process is delayed, the more severe the damage and the greater the likelihood of a mold infestation. Whether the property damage disaster is a sewage backup or a water intrusion from a tree on the roof that allows water to cascade into the home, soaking the library, the SERVPRO team is on the scene in about an hour to commence the cleanup and restoration.

Contact SERVPRO of Carrollton to learn more about water damage cleanup for Farmers Branch, TX, homes and businesses. The office can be reached by phone at (972) 446-0383 or by email at office@SERVPRO10952.com

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