Polygon Sponsors CoSA Emergency Preparedness Series

Polygon Sponsors CoSA Emergency Preparedness Series

As the owner or manager of an archives or records center, you can hope that you and your colleagues never have to experience an emergency situation. But all the hoping in the world won’t prevent flooding, fires, and other emergency scenarios from occurring. That’s why it’s essential that archivists have emergency plans in place. AMRestore’s parent company, Polygon, and the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) have teamed up to create a series of emergency preparedness documents that will give your organization the information it needs to put together a plan for when an emergency scenario damages your important documents.

This series from CoSA, sponsored by Polygon, consists of four documents packed with information to give archivists the knowledge they need to secure and recover essential records when they have been damaged by natural or human-caused emergencies.

“These resources are based on CoSA’s work for the Intergovernmental Preparedness for Essential Records (IPER) Project, which trained state and local government officials in every state and territory in emergency preparedness and ensuring the safety of essential records,” a CoSA administrative coordinator and former IPER trainer said. “We are pleased we’ve been able to repurpose this information.”

4 Documents to Cover the 4 “R’s”

The series is based around what CoSA and Polygon call “The 4 R’s,” which include risk, readiness, response, and recovery. The first of the four documents provides an overview of each R.

The second provides a more in-depth look into risk and readiness. Identifying risk and taking action to reduce it can go a long way for the preservation records over time. Readiness is all about the plans and policies that an organization has in place, enabling that organization to mitigate disastrous situations and preserve its valuable documents.

“Response and Recovery,” the third document, covers the third and fourth R’s. An organization’s response is crucial to the protection of documents during a disaster. Split-second decisions can make all the difference when responding to an emergency. The recovery phase should be moving towards normalcy. Assessing the damage, filing claims, and taking the necessary steps to return to normal operations are all part of recovery.

The final document includes infographics and statistics to guide your organization as it prepares for emergencies. As your organization puts together an emergency preparedness plan, consult these helpful documents. They also offer links to other valuable resources. Visit the CoSA website now to download all four documents in this series.

AMRestore is the leading document recovery service provider in the Mid-Atlantic US. We are ready can help you when disaster strikes. Our team has the expertise and technology to restore damaged documents. Make us a part of your disaster plan and contact our team today.

Planning for Disasters: Protection for Documents and Collectibles

Planning for Disasters: Protection for Documents and Collectibles

As the summer surges on, Americans are getting closer and closer to that time of year where natural disasters become much more common. The summer sun heats the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, leading to hurricanes in that can level the East and Gulf Coasts. Additionally, high temperatures dry out forests, turning them into hot spots for dangerous fires. In order to weather these natural disasters, households and businesses have to be proactive. Valuable collectibles and important documents don’t fare well against fire or water. So, what can we do to protect these items before disaster strikes?

Going Digital Changes Everything… For Documents

Before the digital age, having backups meant having physical copies. In order to have protection against natural disasters, those physical copies would have to be in a separate location. Today, the cloud exists. When it comes to important documents, scanning and storing in the cloud is the safest way to keep backups. That way, you have copies available even if your electronic devices are damaged in the fire, flood, or other disasters.

Scan What You Can, Insure Everything

If you live or own a business somewhere that can be affected by fires, floods, tropical storms, or other disasters, it’s important to have a full understanding of what your insurance covers. If you have valuable items that can’t be replaced or saved by digitization, it’s vital that they are covered by an insurance policy. Homeowners sometimes overestimate what is covered under their home insurance policy. Whether you are a homeowner or business owner, don’t get caught wishing you had insured a valuable item after it’s too late.

Physical Protection

Insurance can soften the blow of losing something irreplaceable with a payout. But it doesn’t get you that one-of-a-kind item back. It might be worth it to invest in a safe for certain valuable items. The safe should have a 1-hour fire rating and a seal to protect the contents inside from fire, smoke, and moisture.

Know Who to Call

If you return to your business or home following a disaster and find important documents, collectibles, or other items damaged, it’s important to contact restoration experts right away. Based out of Maryland, AMRestore provides restoration services to businesses and households in Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The earlier our team is on the scene, the better chance that items can be restored to their original condition. Polygon, our partner company, provides restoration services across the US and Europe.

Being proactive means having a plan in place. Saving our number should be part of your plan in case your valuable items are damaged by a flood, fire, or other disasters. Turn to AMRestore to restore what you value most. Call us to learn more at 1-800-498-8800.

Protecting School Libraries from Mold

In 2015, a leaky roof and faulty HVAC system at the Mark Twain House & Museum led to a mold infestation that affected at least 5,000 artifacts, including first editions of the famous author’s books, translations and other documents of interest. The institution was not alone with its condensation control problems. In 2016, the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon closed its doors when it discovered mold. Each year, libraries around the world battle the damaging effects of mold, making it one of the greatest problems that the knowledge centers face. While the closure of larger libraries and archives are a public inconvenience, incidents that occur at schools affect the quality of education that young people receive. Because schools often close for long periods, their libraries are particularly vulnerable to mold.

Why Mold in Schools Matter

Mold is a type of fungus that grows and spreads through spore propagation. To survive, it requires moisture and a food source. Because paper is an organic material, some varieties of mold survive on the pages and within the bindings well. In addition to discoloration, library books infested with mold often have a musty odor. Without quick mold remediation efforts, the damage could be irreversible.

Just as mold poses a threat to books and documents, it poses a greater threat to human health. When mold infests a library, it affects the quality of indoor air. Contact with mold can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms or worse, particularly in young people whose immune systems are still developing.

The Importance of Climate Control in Libraries

Despite having an HVAC system, the climate within many libraries is not constant throughout the year. During the winter, for example, the air might feel drier. In the summer, conditions are generally more humid, and a school might set the thermostat at a warmer temperature to save energy. Even if the cooling system is on, the air inside may still seem humid.

Seasonal fluctuations in temperatures and relative humidity levels make libraries vulnerable to mold growth. When school is out, the infestation may go unnoticed until classes resume. Because school libraries are a source of collaboration and the sharing of knowledge, climate control is vital to student health and education, as well as the integrity of book collections.

Among the most effective condensation control solutions are temporary climate control technologies that complement HVAC systems. HVAC systems are designed to condition air and promote comfortable temperatures within a building. While their operations help control humidity, this is not their purpose. Independent climate control solutions with monitoring capabilities are much more effective at maintaining ideal temperatures and humidity levels within a library, saving energy, and preventing costly mold-related damage. More importantly, they help keep the air healthy and library doors open.

Mold Prevention Tips for Libraries

  • Maintain relative humidity levels between 40 and 55 percent
  • Keep temperatures around 70°F or cooler
  • Ensure proper ventilation
  • Vacuum and dust regularly
  • Use desiccants in enclosed spaces
  • Use temporary environmental control solutions when temperatures or humidity levels exceed standards
  • Regularly inspect books for signs of mold
  • If present, remove standing water
  • Reduce humidity levels and temperatures, and increase air circulation
  • Isolate the books affected by mold while wearing protective clothing; allow books to dry if they’re wet
  • Disinfect affected bookshelves
  • Use a soft brush, cloth or vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove mold or mildew while wearing protective clothing in a well-ventilated room
  • Kill mold by dabbing affected areas with denatured alcohol

Mold Remediation Tips

If mold affects a large quantity of books, call the mold remediation specialists at AMRestore. An expert will tell you how to stabilize the books to halt the mold growth until professionals arrive. Without proactive condensation control, libraries can quickly become breeding grounds for mold, especially when students are on vacation. Get in touch with AMRestore today to learn how its affordable temporary climate control solutions will protect the health of your students and prevent costly damage.

Water: The Ultimate Library Villain

Water: The Ultimate Library Villain

There are more than 320,000 public libraries around the world. Adding to this figure are thousands of academic, government, research, museum, ecclesiastical, special topic, film, and home libraries. The largest libraries on the planet, such as the Library of Congress and British Library, house more than 15 million books, artifacts, and archived materials each. A single incident of water damage in libraries can prove financially catastrophic, especially if the items affected are numerous, valuable or rare. When libraries pair climate control solutions with archival best practices and emergency preparedness, they reduce the need for water-damaged-book restoration and make a valuable investment in the institution’s future.

The Number of Books Affected by Water Damage

Because the history of libraries dates back to as early as 2600 BC and the number of libraries on the planet is so vast—the U.S. alone has at least 16,549 public libraries—it is difficult to quantify the number of incidents related to water-damaged documents. Historical data provides a glimpse into the damage that water and excess moisture can quickly cause.

When floodwaters infiltrated the Bibiloteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence, Italy, in 1966, it damaged more than two million volumes of materials and manuscripts, including 100,000 rare volumes from the Magliabecchi collection, newspaper collections, 50,000 folios of the Palatina, and the card catalog. The same flood submerged more than 200,000 volumes of books in the University of Florence. In 1975, floodwaters infiltrated the Case Western Reserve University Library in Cleveland, Ohio, affecting about 50,000 maps and 40,000 books. Water-damage-book restoration in this incident cost $540,000.

Floods are not the sole cause of water damage in libraries. Heavy rains in 2006 flooded the basement of New York’s Sidney Memorial Public Library. The 2004 tsunami in South and Southeast Asia nearly destroyed several libraries permanently. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 destroyed 23 public libraries and damaged 70 in Louisiana alone. A broken heating pipe in the Library of the Culture Palace for Nationalities of China caused hot water damage on nearly 21,000 materials, including ancient books. Incidents that also lead to water- and moisture-related damage in libraries include:

  • Faulty HVAC systems
  • Pipes that froze and burst
  • Storm surges
  • Fire suppressing activities
  • Excessive rainfall
  • Sprinkler system malfunctions
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Poorly controlled ambient conditions

Preventing Water Damage in Libraries

Mitigating damage to library documents begins with climate control. The seasonal fluctuations in temperatures and relative humidity levels that you feel throughout the year also affect books and other documents in a library, making them vulnerable to mold, mildew, brittleness and deterioration.

The best temperature for library collections that the public can access is between 68°F and 70°F. Some collections, such as films, may require lower temperatures. Relative humidity levels should range between 30 and 50 percent, depending on the materials stored. Because gases, mold, dust and particulates in the air can damage archived items, ventilation systems in libraries also help preserve collections. Rather than rely on HVAC systems, which are designed for human comfort, it’s best for libraries to use independent climate control solutions because they maintain stable, reliable ambient conditions throughout the year.

Of equal importance is an emergency preparedness and recovery plan. Such a plan helps you create optimal storage conditions, take immediate steps to protect books and documents when there is a disaster warning, and take appropriate actions for water-damaged-book restoration.

At AMRestore, our technicians specialize in creating permanent and temporary climate control solutions for libraries. We’re also the professionals that the nation’s leading libraries and museums turn to when they experience a disaster—including fires, mold damage and flooding—and require document restoration services. If a library experiences a disaster, it will receive AMRestore’s ‘round-the-clock priority services to minimize damage and disruptions. Don’t let your library’s collections fall victim to chance. Get ahead of a disaster with AMRestore’s comprehensive, affordable solutions.

AMRestore: Protecting Your Family History

AMRestore: Protecting Your Family History

People all over the world are gaining interest in learning more about their family history. DNA tells us a lot about where we come from, but historic documents can give provide exquisite details. That is why these documents must be preserved.

The World Cup, while one of the most popular sporting events on the planet, hasn’t always been popular in the US. The event has become more popular in recent years, but as Americans grow to like soccer, there comes a problem; which team to cheer for? In the past, the US men’s team hasn’t gotten very far against superstars like Brazil, Portugal, or Germany, and this year they aren’t even in the competition. A clever marketing campaign by one of the 2018 World Cup partners, 23andme, offers Americans a chance to ‘root for your roots” by taking a DNA test to trace their genealogy back to their original place of origin.

Searching for Your Roots

All of this speaks to the fact that Americans are obsessed with genealogy. It makes sense; as a nation of immigrants, we all want to know where we come from. We don’t have the luxury of centuries of political or social history easily visible around us. As a part of this melting pot, we have all been blended together.  Knowing where we come from, even if it was hundreds of years ago, gives us a sense of identity and legitimacy. It grounds us in a society that lacks certain defining factors that are present in older places such as Europe or Japan. Services like 23andMe offer a simple quick-and-easy answer to the question of genetic identity, all wrapped up in a slick user experience.

Preserving Your Records

Thanks to affordable, accessible DNA testing and improved archival websites, US Americans are enjoying a renewed interest in their heritage. Internet resources such as ancestry.com provide the document trail to go with, but many people might not be aware of the treasure trove of documents that they actually have in their own homes. Every family has accumulated paperwork over the years that often sits piled in boxes in the attic or basement; birth certificates, naturalization papers, and love letters that sit forgotten for decades. These documents tell just as much about a family, if not more, than DNA and should be cared for properly. Storage is key to keeping these precious documents safe and intact. Paper can decay rather quickly and needs a climate-controlled environment to last. Humidity should be kept below 65% in order to prevent mold and insects from spreading through the paper, though too little humidity can actually cause the paper to dry out and become brittle. Paper should be stored below 75 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent decay. So hot attics, garages, and basements should be avoided. Papers should also be stored flat, rather than rolled up or simply stuffed in a box or drawer. The containers and folders that you use to store them should also be archival quality, meaning acid-free so as not to further degrade the paper.

AMRestore to the Rescue!

If these precautions fail and documents become damaged, you can contact AMRestore for help. Every year, we salvage millions of paper and film-based documents from damage caused by water, fire, and environmental factors. Documents that have suffered damage deteriorate extremely fast, and so it is important to work with a conservationist as soon as possible to halt the progression of decay. AMRestore uses the most technically advanced processes and equipment available to address the specific needs of each project and keep your precious documents safe.

Conservation is both an art and a science and, like both fields, requires a constant exchange of knowledge to improve. To learn more about our contents restoration service, check out this page: https://amrestore.com/index.php/contents-restoration-personal-property-cleaning/

 

AMRestore Saves School Materials When Mold Strikes

AMRestore Saves School Materials When Mold Strikes

With summertime only a few months away, it’s time to start thinking about how excess temperature and moisture in school buildings work in concert to create an ideal environment for mold to thrive. High humidity, in particular, makes it easy for mold to damage soft goods. A wide variety of materials in school environments—ranging from musical instruments to library books—can serve as ideal media for mold growth. If you’re a school administrator dealing with the consequences of a mold outbreak, you may feel as if these items are a total loss.

The good news is that doesn’t need to be the case. In occurrences of mold damage, AMRestore’s document recovery solutions can help return school materials to working condition.

Mold Damage Shuts Down Popular School Activities

The “Sonic Boom” band at Stephen F. Austin High School in Houston, Texas, knows just how expensive mold damage can be. Over the summer, HVAC issues led to a mold issue that decimated 40 musical instruments and cases ranging from brass to woodwinds, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage. The incident caused many students to miss out on participating in halftime shows, parades, and other once-in-a-lifetime events.

Student-athletes and coaches at Fillmore Middle School in Fillmore, California, know the inconvenience of mold damage as well. The boy’s locker room, coach’s office, and stage area of the gymnasium building closed because of safety concerns when mold was found to be present in the drywall attic space over these areas. While repairs take place, coaches are being forced to use classrooms to conduct athletic activities and instruction—not an ideal situation.

Environments Where Mold Thrive

Mold grows when airborne mold spores land on a damp “food source,” such as wood, paper, carpet, insulation, and other building materials, and begin digesting it in order to survive. In schools, excess moisture could be present due to leaky roofs, pipes, windows, and foundations, or even from fresh paint or carpet cleaning. In fact, just the increased humidity of summer weather in building areas where the air conditioning has been shut off can be enough to trigger mold growth. Thus, it’s not much of a stretch to recognize that materials such as schoolbooks, musical instruments, ceiling tiles, and carpeting can provide the perfect environment for mold spores to take hold and grow. The key to managing mold in schools: controlling moisture.

AMRestore Is the Best Solution Provider for Mold Growth and Damage in School Settings

AMRestore’s innovative equipment restoration technology employs state-of-the-art vacuum freeze-drying chambers that use negative pressure to create the industry’s most effective drying solution, capable of returning school materials to working condition rapidly. And AMRestore’s desiccant air-dry distribution system is an energy-saving technology that provides customers real-time access to documents as they complete the restoration process.

Learn more about our document recovery solutions here.

When Art, Culture, and History are at Stake, It’s Time to Call AMRestore

When Art, Culture, and History are at Stake, It’s Time to Call AMRestore

Political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator Marcus Garvey once stated, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” As such, valuable historical texts, books, documents, artworks, and ancient artifacts enable future generations to learn about their past, enabling discoveries of humankind’s triumphs and foibles over the years, engendering understanding that will allow for a better future.

Thus, after a flood or other disaster, it’s critical for museums, churches, libraries, municipalities, archives, and historical societies to quickly and properly restore their most valuable historical items to avoid further damage and decay. This preservation process, an essential part of document management, begins with choosing the right restoration partner.

Preserving Archival Material is Important for Historical and Cultural Reasons

Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, when it comes to historical collections, conservation and preservation are two different concepts. In general, conservation refers to proactive steps taken to ensure the proper physical treatment of individual damaged items. For example, a fragile historical document that had been incorrectly framed by an amateur might be mounted on acid-free paper and put behind UV-resistant glass to ensure it does not degrade further.

On the other hand, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works defines preservation as activities that minimize chemical and physical deterioration and damage and prevent loss of informational content. This broad concept includes not only disaster planning, but also activities such as treatment, replacement, or reformatting that address existing damage.

To ensure the permanence of their collections, earlier, less technologically advanced generations simply recorded the words of historical documents by publishing them; but as technology advanced, archivists began to use microfilm as a medium for preservation and document management. However, by the mid-20th century, rather than just capturing or copying the information, archivists increasingly saw the value in preserving the original documents themselves before they deteriorated.

These Materials Have Commercial Value as Well

The term intrinsic value is used by the National Archives and Records Service to describe historical materials with qualities and characteristics that should be retained in their original physical form, rather than as copies. Of course, these records may have significant monetary value as well—that’s why historical documents are routinely appraised for insurance replacement, probate, donation, purchase, sale, historical, and research purposes.

So, when disaster strikes, the monetary losses can be devastating, such as the numerous examples of water-related library disasters. In 1975, for instance, the Case Western Reserve University Library was flooded, saturating and muddying approximately 40,000 books and 50,000 maps, resulting in a recovery cost of $540,000. And when floods struck Prague in August 2002, extensive collections in more than 40 libraries were destroyed and damaged—the damage to the National Library alone was estimated at $11,000,000.

Items of Cultural Relevance Exist in a Variety of Locations

Of course, valuable documents aren’t found only in libraries and museums. Municipal buildings, churches, historical societies, and other institutions may house rare and irreplaceable records as well. Literature, maps, letters, genealogy records, business contracts, and photographs are just a few of the cultural and historical archives that may be represented in these collections. And these documents need not always be connected with famous people or events to prove valuable. Just as important to historians is the record of everyday life within a culture, including rituals, religion, foods, art, and other facets that make a culture unique. Unfortunately, many of these documents may not be cataloged and may be stored in various offices, storerooms, boxes, and cabinets, or in even more out-of-the-way spots, such as under a staircase or in the attic.

Disaster Planning and a Restoration Partner are Integral When Disaster Strikes

Responding quickly to damage from water or other emergencies requires a disaster plan. A number of document recovery solutions, such as vacuum freeze drying, desiccant air drying, and cleaning and sterilization, can be employed to reverse much of the damage. When documents can’t be salvaged, digital imaging can often be used to capture the information contained in damaged records. To determine the best course of action in performing document management, it’s vital to employ the services of a restoration specialist partner with extensive experience in restoration. AMRestore is that partner.

By combining the passion for helping others with both experience and technology, the experts at AMRestore maintain high standards in service delivery. AMRestore has successfully dried and restored countless priceless contents. The AMRestore team prides itself on a quick response and unparalleled restoration of valuable archives. To find out more about how AMRestore can help with disaster recovery planning, contact us today.