"So, what do you do with a wet book?"
SSummer on the beach. Books are almost as ubiquitous as bikinis.
Everyone is reading a favorite book while tanning.
Mindel Dubansky, a New York bookbinder for the Metropolitan Museum
of Art who recently presented Mr. Gorbachev-the Soviet Leader-with a
Yiddish Bible, showed me the latest in summer fashion for books during a
trip to the City. Mindy's a great bookbinder. She was even asked to bind
top-secret microfilm into books for the CIA.
"What is it?" I asked. Mindy was holding two books bound in what
looked like beachware, each with matching ties. "The ties," she
explained, "bind the book together!" Her excitement couldn't be contained
as she skirted my question. "On this one," she demonstrated, "the pages
are held closed with button-snaps; while, on this one," she motioned
toward the other book, "they're fastened with velcro." The pages
depicted scenes of New York, the beach, palm trees, and Florida on stiff
leaves, each hinged and sewn into the book with more beachware.
The books were truly fashionable. "But why these weird shapes?" I
asked. -One book, the one with velcro fasteners, was the shape of a half
moon, while the other was the shape of a large slice of a pie. Mindy gave
me bne of her "Don't-I-tell- you-everything" looks, then laughing, said,
"Silly. It's a bookini!" She held the book with button-snap fasteners up
to her chest. "I wore it to the beach once," she continued disappointedly,
"but the flaps kept popping open and the pages fluttered too
attractively." Picturing the event made me laugh nervously, knowingly,
or as if I should have known not to ask. "So," I continued naively, "what
do you do with a wet book?"
The question had been on the minds of many of us here. Mindy didn't
have any advice. She didn't let her bookini get wet. Here at UF, it seems
books get wet whether we let them or not. In the last month, the Libraries
have had books wetted by storm waters gushing through windows and -
ceilings, and returned-soaking-from patrons caught in surprise storms.
Mold growth begins not long after a book gets and stays wet, so it's
important to act quickly. There is always time to call the Preservation
Office. Books with coated papers, generally anything glossy, must be
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treated before any other type of book. Since coatings are usually clay or
another mineral, when coated papers dry, they tend to stick together,
creating a form of rock.
Treatment of coated papers calls for patience and a good deal of care.
The best.way to treat them is to blast freeze then freeze dry; but the
closest unit for this treatment is in Atlanta. Treatment, otherwise, is as
follows: Don't allow the book to dry until every page has been
interleaved with polyester film or silicone release paper. (Both will be
available through the Preservation Office.) Lay the book flat, weight
lightly, and allow to dry directly in front of a fan. Don't be tempted to
open the book. It will take a long time to dry.
Treatment of other books is simpler. The procedure follows: Interleave
every so many sheets with paper towels to absorb water, working from one
end of the book to the other. Repeat interleaving as often as necessary.
Thereafter, stand the book up, fanned out, for air drying. You may also
place this book in front of a fan, but in any case be sure there is plenty of
circulating air. If there isn't time to do all of this, do as much as you can
then wrap the book in tightly sealed plastic and place it in a freezer until
you can deal with it.
Swelling of the dried book will be minimized if water and moisture can
be absorbed before drying. Good air circulation is the key to preventing
mold growth. Mold bloom will occur only with stagnant air. If mold
growth does occur, it must then be cleaned. Wrinkling of pages will
almost always result, as will water-or tide marks, but these are
aesthetic conditions. The volume will not be lost. m