University Of Utah Media Release


Randy Silverman, U of U Marriott Library, (801) 585-6782;
Heidi Brett, U of U Marriott Library, (801) 581-7791,
Andy Ferrell, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training,
(318) 356-7444,


November 16, 2004 - The University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott has received a grant from the National Park Service and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training to conduct research with domestic and international partners on recovery protocols for library materials damaged by flooding. The research will focus on books of historical significance (dating from the 18th through the 20th centuries), clarifying the most effective disaster recovery procedures when dealing with collections of culturally significant or irreplaceable books.

The problem of drying water-damaged books is common to libraries worldwide, with modern book conservation dating its origins to the events surrounding the Florence Flood of 1966. Yet, despite literally dozens of large-scale disasters and thousands of small events that have occurred worldwide since that time, the problem of defining "best practices" for disaster recovery remains ambiguous.

The National Park Service and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training have awarded the University of Utah's Marriott Library a sum of $39,790 for research related to emergency washing, drying, and sterilization techniques. Specifically, The outcomes of this research will allow libraries around the globe to respond more effectively to water-related problems affecting irreplaceable collections.

Randy Silverman, Marriott Library Preservation Librarian and principal investigator on the project explains: "The results of this enquiry will determine the long-term affects of drying and sterilization techniques on cellulose. Using real books to better mirror actual disaster conditions, our goal is to answer the question, 'What are the most significant factors to isolate when critically evaluating a flood-damaged library collection before determining how to best dry it and eradicate mold secondary problems?'"

International partners include the British Library (London), and the National Library of the Czech Republic which conducted groundbreaking research in drying techniques as a result of massive flooding in Prague and the surrounding region in 2002.

Domestic partners include the conservation center of the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry (Harpers Ferry, WV), Applied Paper Technology, Inc. (a commercial paper testing lab, Atlanta, GA), Preservation Technologies, Inc. (a commercial mass-deacidification firm, Cranberry Township, PA), Sterigenics, (a commercial sterilization firm, Corona., CA), Belfor USA (a commercial disaster recovery firm, Fort Worth, TX), Artifex Equipment, Inc. (developer of innovative drying technologies, Penngrove, CA), and Sam Weller Used and Rare Books (provider of test samples, Salt Lake City, UT).

J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0860 USA
tel. 801-585-6782 / fax. 801-585-3464