Salvaging Waterlogged Records

Restoring records after disasters is a painstakingly process; it takes patience, space and time.

This was highlighted during the National Archives of Fiji’s in-house training on salvaging water-logged records. The training was being conducted by Brandon Oswald, the Executive Director of the Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS).

The Masters in Archives and Records Management graduate has had years of experience in both library and archives but has found his calling in working with Archival records.

Mr Oswald here in Fiji through the University of South Pacific’s invitation was able to share with Archives officers on how to salvage records waterlogged after a disaster. With basic items such as straws, blotting paper and tissues rolls, he demonstrated how water damaged documents could be air-dried to allow for the restoration process to follow.

“It takes 24-48 hours before mould starts to set it, so this is your window period

“It’s recommended that this is done indoors, you can use fans to circulate the air in the room.

With his salvaging pack, he showed his four participants from the conservation, library and recordkeeping units, how to lift soaked materials such as photographs, soft and hard covered books, maps and sheets of paper and place them expertly over blotting paper. Tissues were carefully placed between pages to soak up excess water.

Conservation unit’s Assistant Archivist Salanieta Rakarawa was all praise for the training,

“This will help us a lot in this unit. We have not had this type of training before. It will be useful and it’s economical. The use of straws to dry papers and tissue rolls is interesting and very cost effective.

Mr Oswald added that disaster preparedness was an important for any archival institution and that in the Pacific it was even more important to be ready for any natural disaster. He will be working with the National Archives to look into drafting a disaster preparedness policy.

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