Josiah Bartlet Presidential Library
MOLD! 07/30/2011
Yesterday I was unpacking and beginning to process a new collection when I opened one of the books to find several clusters of black and green spots. I knew this couldn't end well. So I got a pair of nitrile gloves and brought the book in under the fume hood. I carefully brushed at both sets of spots. The black moved like dust, the green was... fuzzy. Big UH-OH. This book was unfortunately moldy. I continued to flip carefully through the book. There were clusters of both black and green mold along the edges of many of the pages. So what to did I do?

First a little background. Mold on books is just like the mold in your fridge. Same genus, different species. It grows when paper (made of pulverized wood) gets wet and is not allowed to dry.  Combined with long exposure to high levels of humidity, mold grows and spreads.

So what did I do? Well the Northeast Document Conservation Center recommends consulting with a mycologist (someone who studies mold) to make sure the mold isn't toxic, but as this was late Friday afternoon, I decided to keep it under the fume hood and use HEPA vacs and the fume hood to protect myself. First I made sure the book wasn't wet. It wasn't which didn't account for why there was active mold (the green stuff). So it must mean something else in the box is wet. Will search for it to keep it away from the rest of our collections! For the dry mold,  I used a brush to brush what I could, on to a tray holding the book. This will get vacuumed later. For the wet mold I used a special wet/dry vacuum with a HEPA system. These are the only system that is acceptable to deal with mold.

Because there is active mold (which by the way will not always  be green! Mold, both active, and inactive mold, can come in many different shades from black to purple to green to yellow!). I keep the book in under the fume hood and go searching through the box it came in and come across more active mold. Unfortunately, several of the documents and another book are too far gone with mold to be salvageable. So they will be put into large black trash bags, wrapped with duct tape and put into the garbage.  I checked the other boxes in the collection and they all seem to be fine. I, of course will check more thoroughly when I fully process the collection but it looks like to be contained to one box which is excellent!

The Missoula Public Library has an excellent picture of different colored molds together in a book:
courtsey of the Missoula Public Library blog:
Katrina B. - archivist


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