Preservation & Disaster Resources
In the case of a public records disaster or emergency:
- Contact professional disaster recovery experts for advice as soon as possible after you discover the situation.
- If the emergency happens during non-business hours, contact the American Institute for Conservation’s Cultural Emergency Response Team 24 hour free hotline at 201-661-8068.
- Follow up by contacting IARA's Records Management team if you need help with moving your records to safety, determining which records are salvageable, or properly disposing of those records which are not salvageable.
- For County/Local government offices, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For State agencies, contact email@example.com.
- Never store records in a basement or attic.
- Never store records near water pipes or air conditioning.
- Never store records near a heat source-the ideal climate for records storage is between 65 and 70 degrees, 55 percent humidity.
- Store records away from light: sunlight fades and damages records.
- Wash hands before handling records: natural oils from your skin contaminate records.
- Keep copies of critical records at a separate location.
- Do not tape, paper clip, staple, or fold records.
- Never use ballpoint or felt-tip pen to label records.
- Always use a soft, number-two pencil to label the backs of photographs.
- Always place plastic covers over computer equipment when not in use.
- Damage to computers, disks, and peripheral equipment requires professional restoration. Do not attempt to use your equipment after a disaster as any damage to equipment could cause further harm to records.
- Be sure to migrate electronic records when you install new software on your computer.
In an effort to aid residents, businesses and governments across Indiana suffering from flood damage, the Indiana Archives is providing the following information to assist in preserving records and minimizing the damage. We have also established a special phone line at the Indiana Archives to aid governments attempting to salvage official government records.
How to deal with flood damaged pictures, documents and books:
If your items can be dealt with immediately:
Carefully rinse silt, mud, or debris off of item with clean water if possible. If this is not possible very gently brush sediment off items. It is crucial to completely dry or to freeze items as quickly as possible to avoid the growth of mold. Photographs should be removed from frames or frozen in frames. Books, papers and home made print-outs of digital photographs can be safely dried in a place where air is circulating (i.e. not in a tightly closed room). Place plain paper towels in between approximately every 15 pages or less and change out with dry paper towels as they become saturated. To dry photographs that have been professionally developed, place wax paper in between each photograph as they are drying, or lay the photographs out individually. Be aware that photographs may curl if dried in this manner, but can be flattened later. Smaller books can be stood on end on a flat surface with the pages fanned open to air dry. Only use this method if the book is strong enough to stand open in this manner. Books and magazines with glossy paper must be opened so that every page remains separated while drying to avoid the pages becoming stuck together.
If items cannot be dealt with immediately:
Wrap in plastic each book or stack of papers no more than an inch high and freeze. Professionally printed photographs should be isolated between layers of wax paper before freezing. Freezing inhibits the growth of mold. Items can be thawed at your convenience until the pages or photographs can be separated without tearing and then dried in the above manner.
Continue to dry items in your preferred method at least 24 hours beyond the point at which they seem dry to touch. If items are affected by mold, do not attempt to clean them yourself as the mold can be a health hazard; consult a conservation professional.
Further information is available from:
American Institute for Conservation - "Tips for the Care of Water Damaged Family Heirlooms and Other Valuables"
Indiana Archives Conservation Lab
6440 E. 30th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46219
The Conservation Division assists the Indiana Archives and Indiana government in general with the preservation of delicate records.