This was a one-day course that I did through Triptych Conservation Services.  It was held at the University Library and despite being midwinter the room was fuggily warm.  The course was presented by Joy Culy and Stephen Williams.  Stephen had first-hand experience of a significant fire in a memorial library in Norwich 1995.  People for the course came from around Dunedin, Invercargill, even one person who was available from Auckland.

Stuff I wrote down:

Map drawers laid criss-cross act as good suppport for documents.

Wax boxes can create a damp micro climate.  They are also flammable so archives, libraries and record services using them need to rely on good fire suppression.

It doesn’t take much water to expand a book.  We were shown a telephone directory they had prepared earlier, in a bucket, with a cup of water.  The directory absorbed all the water over three quarters of the pages.

Big collections should go back into boxes while processing.  I should have followed that advice while I was doing Hoon Hay Parish.

Document the process of managing a disaster for insurance and tracking.  In some cases the insurers may get in before the archivists.

Processing for freezing:

layer documents into plastic crates, or sturdy boxes.

bag or interweave books using freezer paper or freezer bags.  Lay the books flat or with the spine downwards to preserve its shape.

avoid loading boxes too heavy, use smaller-sized boxes if necessary.

Archives NZ or National Library have access to vacuum freeze-drying.  There is no specialised unit in the South Island.  Cost does come into play here.  Any labelling or tracking notes should be included on the paper or in the book, notes on the plastic wrap will be lost in the process.

Blotting paper can be used for air-drying, useful stuff.

Triptych has disaster kits.

Coloured archive tape leaks when wet.

Make sure everyone knows their place in the action plan.  Review and test the plan.

Co-ordinate with other institutions; keep contacts up-to-date; trust your network.

Deaccessioned material is useful for using in realistic mini-disaster exercises.  There was some talk after the event of organising doing our own exercise.  I would be keen.

I didn’t get any new advice on how to get the smokey smell out of burnt records.