University Library Emergency Plan

Water Emergency (Reponse)


The Emergency Supply Closet is located in the cupboards by the University Librarian's Office (M43).  Some supplies live elsewhere. For a complete list of supplies and their locations, see the Recovery & Supplies section. 


1.      If there is a broken pipe, a roof leak, or a flood, call Security at 8999.

       2.  a.  If water is leaking from the ceiling, cover the area with plastic sheeting (in Emergency Supply closet). Place plastic buckets (in Janitorial Closet) under leaks.

           b.  If there is water on the floor, remove books from lower shelves onto higher shelves or onto vacant shelves on the walls away from where water is standing or go to the Lower Level 1 hallway to retrieve empty book trucks.

           c.  Unplug any electrical equipment in the area, unless the outlet is submerged, or if you are standing in water in order to unplug the      equipment.

           d.  If electricity in the building needs to be turned off, call 8999.




Evacuation Procedures (Response)

The building needs to be evacuated only in case of major water damage and when structural damage can be expected. The decision to evacuate should be made by the head of the library, the team will organize the evacuation. The head of the team should coordinate all activities related to the evacuation, including notification of police and/or fire departments, and supervision of other key evacuation personnel. During evacuation, elevators should not be used.

For further information on evacuation, see the Evacuation Team section.

Salvage of Wet Materials (Recovery)

Following a disaster that results in wet materials, it is important to deal with these materials as soon as possible because mold growth can begin to occur within 48 hours.  First, remove standing water and reduce and stabilize the temperature at between 55-70ºF and the relative humidity at between 30-50%.  Then, begin dealing with the materials themselves.  There are several methods for drying materials, which are described below.

Air Drying

Air drying is best for small quantities of materials because it takes a lot of space, time, labor, and has the highest potential for mold growth. This method can be used on materials from the library's circulating collections if the quantity is small enough. This is the preferred method for photographs from Special Collections. Only in rare cases should it be used for Special Collections books and papers. Tom Camden should give this approval.


  • Dry damp or slightly wet books by sitting them open on one end with pages fanned out and use fans to circulate air.

  • For books that are slightly wet, intersperse blotter paper between the pages, and change this paper periodically.

  • This method is not recommended for books with coated (slick) pages.


  • Spread the photographs out to dry, face up, laying them flat on an absorbent material such as blotters, unprinted newsprint, paper towels, or a clean cloth.

  • Do not touch the wet emulsions.

  • Weight down photographs evenly on edges to prevent curling.


Audiovisual materials

  • Should be laid on absorbent material such as blotters, unprinted newsprint, paper towels, or a clean cloth.

  • Do not freeze these materials.

Freeze Drying

This is the preferred method for Special Collections materials except as noted for specific kinds of materials below.


  • Books that are more wet, should be frozen and freeze dried (mostly likely with a vendor)

  • The temperature in the freezer must be maintained at or below -10° F.

  • Books and stacks of records should be restrained between unprinted, clean corrugated board wrapped with a strong elastic band to help reduce cockling.

  • Place wrapped books in milk or postal crates spine down.  Do not layer books.

  • Try to realign distorted books because books will come out of freezing in the same shape as they entered it.  However, do not force them back into shape as this may cause more damage.



  • Freeze photographs if they are stuck together or they are stuck to their frames or glass
  • Do not freeze wet daguerreotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes



See the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)'s Preservation Leaflets for more detailed information.