A Disaster Recovery Plan for the Australian National Herbarium
5. RESTORATION, REHABILITATION & RE-EVALUATION
Once all materials have been stabilised, it is time to take stock. The Emergency Coordinator, the Salvage Controller and the Facilities Coordinator should reflect on what has been achieved during the recovery effort and congratulate all involved. It is time then to plan the process of Restoration of Collection materials and Rehabilitation of the site.
Where the Recovery operation involved staff leaving their normal duties to attend to the urgent needs of the clean up and salvaging operations, it may be appropriate for additional staff to be hired for the Restoration and Rehabilitation phase to enable some staff to resume their normal duties.
5.1.1 Role of Facilities coordinator
After collection materials have been removed, arrange for the affected area(s) to be thoroughly dried and cleaned using professional services if required.
Cupboards, shelving and surfaces should be wiped down with a fungicide such as 'Lysol' to control mould (do not reshelve materials for at least 7 days after fungicidal treatment).
Stabilise Relative Humidity at 47% ± 2% at 20ºC.
With approval from Collections Recovery Coordinator, arrange for the cleaning, repair or replacement of damaged items such as carpet, cupboards, shelving and other furniture.
Alert Collections Recovery Coordinator about the need for any internal building reconstruction work.
Carpeting and underfelt must be thoroughly dried to prevent mould (this may necessitate lifting and removing the carpet by professional carpet layers). Smoke odour may also need to be removed by professional cleaners.
Assess the extent of damage to the area and estimate the monetary value of the rehabilitation process. The Collections Recovery Coordinator should be informed of this value, for insurance purposes.
5.2.1 Role of the Salvage Controller(s)
Firstly, when all materials have been stabilised, the Salvage Controller(s), in conjunction with the Conservator, should assess the damage to the Collection and arrive at a monetary estimate of the damage to the collection. The Collections Recovery Coordinator should be informed of this value, for insurance purposes.
The Salvage controller(s) should then initiate and oversee the long term Restoration of collection materials.
The restoration of the Collection(s) will include:
- Monitoring operations in the ambient and warm air-drying (if in use) treatment areas and processing materials for return to original location(s).
- Treatment of frozen materials leading ultimately to their return to original location(s).
- Treatment of any physically damaged materials.
Ambient Air-Drying Facility
Initially, materials in the ambient air-drying facilities will be just dry smoke damaged materials, artworks, large format materials (eg maps) and possibly a small numbers of cryptogam botanical specimens.
Conditions in the air-drying facility should be
- rapidly circulating air (use oscillating fans)
- relative humidity <55%
- cool (low temperatures will help prevent the growth of mould).
Materials in the air-drying facilities must be monitored for the development of mould. Any outbreak of mould should be treated by adjusting conditions in the air-drying room.
When air-drying is complete. The following restoration procedures should be performed:
Treatment of Artworks and Large Format Material
Asses whether professional treatment is required. If no extra treatment is required, return to original location.
Treatment of smoke-damaged material
Damage may be in the form of charring, soot deposits or smoke damage. If charring is slight, pamphlets and similar items maybe photocopied, while books and other bound items may be trimmed and rebound, and herbarium specimens may be remounted. If in doubt seek advice from the conservator.
Treatment of ambient air-dried cryptogam specimens
See ‘Wet Cryptogam Specimens’ below for detailed cryptogam drying procedure.
Warm air-drying facility
Initially the only materials in the warm air drying facility will be fungal specimens, if at all. See ‘Wet Cryptogam Specimens’below for detailed cryptogam drying procedure.
Treatment of Frozen Materials
After material has been frozen below –20ºC for at least 48 hours (to retard the growth of mould) and as air-drying and warm air-drying space becomes available, the restoration of frozen materials can commence.Wet Cryptogam Specimens
If numbers of wet cryptogam specimens were not too numerous to process for drying in one day, specimens will have been frozen. The procedure for drying cryptogam specimens after freezing is essentially the same as for drying specimens immediately at the time of the disaster.
The procedure for preparing cryptogam specimens for drying the same for all cryptogam specimens, except that fungi should be warm air-dried while bryophytes, lichens and algae should be ambient air-dried. The only difference in the drying procedure is the location to which materials are taken for treatment and the application of diffuse heat to fungi during the drying process. The drying procedure is given below:
- Begin drying operations as soon as possible.
- Transport materials to ambient air-drying and warm-air-drying facilities at locations to be advised by the Facilities Co-ordinator at the time of the emergency.
- Unpack materials and inspect the condition of the specimen container (either a cardboard box or paper packet). If the container is not too damaged or too wet, the specimen can be dried in its container, with lid ajar to enable air to reach contents (lids of boxes can be placed underneath boxes and packets can have opening flap propped open).
If containers are too damaged to keep, the sample and any associated labels should be transferred to a paper bag or wrapped in a sheet of newspaper. The label on the box or packet should be cut off or photocopied and kept with the sample.
- Assess the condition of the specimen. If mould or freezing have caused extensive damage to the specimen it may be deemed unrecoverable. The Salvage Controller must be involved in this decision and a record kept of any items deemed unrecoverable.
If the sample is wet but looks recoverable, it should be tipped out of its polythene bag (if present) into the box, packet, paper bag or sheet of newspaper in which it is to be dried. The number written on the polythene bag is the Collector’s No and a note should be made of this to be kept with the sample, especially if other labelling is damaged. The polythene bag can then be discarded.
- If the sample is dry inside the polythene bag, but the container is wet, the sample should be left in the polythene bag (opened so that air can get in). This will protect the sample from the wet container whilst ensuring the sample and the container are not separated while the container is being dried.
- Specimens should be loosely packed into wire racks for either ambient air-drying or warm-air-drying. Alternatively specimens to be air-dried can be spread out in a single layer on a flat surface, on newspaper or butchers paper. A lot of space is required for this and any loose fragments will need to be secured (eg with stainless steel pins or plastic paper clips) so the fans do not blow them away.
Note: if warm air-drying fungi in ovens or dryers, the heat must be very low – much lower than for vascular plants, or the fungi will cook.
When samples have been successfully dried their packaging should be inspected and any deficiencies tended to.
If original packaging was too damaged and therefore discarded prior to drying, a new box or paper envelope and labelling must be prepared using information salvaged from labelling on the original packaging.
Samples should be placed in a polythene bag inside the specimen container, with the top of the bag folded over and the Collectors Number written in permanent ink on the upper edge of the bag.
Labelled samples should then be frozen prior to return to the Herbarium, for insect control purposes.
Wet Herbarium Specimens
Herbarium specimens should be assessed for their condition. If they were just wet, prior to freezing, and are not muddy or mouldy, and if the flimsies and labels are not too damaged, the specimen can be dried in its mounted format. Remove any loose components and labels from their bag if the bag is plastic. Place specimen and loose components within folders in newspaper and cardboard and dry in a plant press as per usual plant-drying protocols. When dry, place any loose components in a new plastic bag. Return specimen to herbarium.
Muddy Herbarium Specimens
If specimen folders are muddy, however, or if the label is damaged, it is preferable to remount the specimen. The following steps should be taken:
- To demount the specimen, carefully remove specimen from mounting board with a scalpel and scissors. If the specimen is glued to the mounting board, cut around the specimen, do not try to pull the specimen off the mounting board.
- Ensure all specimens have a tag with the following information written in pencil: Collector, Collector’s number and Accession Number eg ‘ A.J. Whalen 693 CANB 0456233’. This is important in case a specimen becomes separated from its label.
- Remove label from mounting board with scissors and retain.
- Discard damaged flimsies and mounting board.
- Place specimen, label and any loose components in newspaper, and dry as per usual drying protocols.
- Remount dried specimen as per usual mounting protocols.
Mouldy herbarium specimens
People with a history of allergies should not be handling or cleaning mouldy items. Those handling mouldy materials should wear gloves and a facemask.
Mouldy herbarium specimens should be treated with alcohol and then warm air-dried according to the following procedures:
- Demount specimen and cut off label as per instructions given for Muddy Herbarium Specimens above.
- Ensure all specimens are tagged with the Collector, Collector’s number and Accession Number.
- If labels are mouldy they should be placed in a plastic sleeve and photocopied on archival paper. The original label should then be treated for mould just as for the sample (directions given below).
- Discard flimsies and taxon folders
- Loose specimen parts in plastic /paper bags should be inspected for mould. If mouldy, remove for treatment.
- Photocopied labels and any unaffected plant parts should be placed on a fresh sheet of newspaper and set to one side until the specimen and any loose parts and original labels can be treated and added to the newspaper.
- Set up two trays in the fume-hood for treating materials of differing conditions. A ‘spraying tray’ and a ‘dunking tray’ will be required, as well as a paintbrush, a spray bottle, alcohol (70% ethanol) and blotting paper.
- Treat materials with alcohol according to the condition of the material. For materials that are only lightly affected by mould, alcohol can be applied to affected area using a paintbrush or a spray bottle, in the designated ‘spraying tray’. The worst affected specimens will need to be dunked in a bath of alcohol for 30 seconds.
- After treating materials with alcohol, transfer to blotting paper.
- When blotted or reasonably dry, transfer treated specimen and any other treated components (eg label, loose parts) to the newspaper holding the photocopied label and any unaffected loose parts.
- Dry the specimen and associated components in a plant press according to normal drying protocols.
- Remount dried specimen as per usual mounting protocols.
- Annotate the specimen to indicate the treatment given to the specimen during the disaster procedure and the date of this treatment.
- Freeze specimen prior to return to Herbarium, for insect control purposes.
Treatment of Other Frozen Materials
Mouldy or Muddy Materials
Upon removal from the freezer, other mouldy materials, aside from herbarium specimens, should be air-dried. Mould should not be removed from material while it is wet, as it will smear. When the material is dried it should be taken outside on a clear, windy day and the mould brushed off.
Mud is dealt with in a similar way; when the item is dry, mud can be carefully brushed off.
To air dry wet books, interleave paper towelling between pages, place books upright on a towel on a bench, sitting open slightly. Direct oscillating fans onto pages. Remove wet towelling and replace with fresh towelling as necessary.
Rolls of large format material
Any rolls of large format material (eg maps) that have been frozen should be recovered by conservators experienced in handling large format material.
Treatment of any contaminated water-soluble material will need to be conducted by a conservator.
Treatment of Physically Damaged Materials
Physically damaged materials should be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine if professional restoration is required.
A detailed post-emergency assessment should be carried out to determine the extent of loss and damage and to determine successes and failings. All members of the team should have input to the post-disaster assessment process. A written report should be produced including details on the following:
- Cause of the disaster;
- Number of items damaged, replaced, discarded and repaired;
- Ongoing treatment costs;
- Staff time expended during the operation;
- Cost of rehabilitating the affected area(s);
- Cost of equipment and supplies;
- Notable successes and/or failings at each stage of the recovery process;
The report should make recommendations for any improvement of Collection management procedures deemed necessary and propose changes to the Disaster Plan where necessary. The report should have a summary of lessons learnt that can be made available for other institutions to learn from eg via publishing in an appropriate botanical or library newsletter.
The area affected should be monitored for at least one year after the event to make sure no mould has grown - if detected, consult the conservator.
Emergency bin consumables used during the recovery operation should be replaced.