What are the main risks for archival fonds?

In general

climatic variation of temperature and relative air humidity, water pipes, power supply lines, contamination through mould, insect infestation, damage done by mice, bad quality conservation material 

Emergency cases 

fire, water leakage, floods, earthquakes, terrorist attacks etc.

How to prevent an outbreak of mould?

It is a priority to establish the appropriate climatisation and to control regularly the climatic values. 
Ideal climate for archives:  
air humidity 45 - 55 %, temperature  14º - 18º C
The climate in the archives should vary as little as possible during the year.
The premises as well as the objects within must be kept clean. 
Mould spores are present in dust and in ambient air. However, contamination by mould depends to a large extent on the climatic situation. 
dust reduction = limitation of spores = risk minimisation
For cleaning special vacuum-cleaners (with a filter) must be used.
If the need arises, a clean-up operation in the building must be carried out because ground water or hang water may penetrate through the outer walls thereby causing a level of air humidity that is much too high (> 60 %).

What are the effects of mould in archival fonds? 

reduction of paper resistance due to cellulose decomposition
health risks, in particular for those who are prone to allergies or who have immune deficiencies

What to do in case of mould contamination?

contact the experts of a specialist firm 
eliminate immediately the cause 
reduce contamination by doing a first cleaning (carried out by a specialist)
take further steps according to the extent of the contamination (irradiation, mechanical cleaning etc)
Important: From the moment when these measures are implemented it is important to prevent the propagation of mould through improper handling.

What type of protective clothing should be used in contaminated archives?

respirator mask
protective overall and shoe covers to prevent the propagation of mould in other rooms 

What kind of protective clothing is needed? 

Single-use protective suit for small-scale tasks of short duration
(< 1 hour) in places where the proliferation is only superficial (contaminated surface < 0,5 m2

protective suit (PPE category 3 type 5/6)
respirator mask (type FFP2 or FFP3) 
closed protective eyeglasses 
shoe covers 
latex of nitrile gloves 

Mould in the archives: 
What is the procedure to follow until the archives are decontaminated?


enter the archives only in emergency cases wearing protective clothing (at least gloves and respirator mask)
do not touch and do not wipe contaminated objects with a cloth
avoid hasty movements (danger of spore propagation)
do not use any kind of disinfectant
do not transfer elsewhere the contaminated archival fonds
refuse admittance to sick people or pregnant women
suspend the use of visibly contaminated archival fonds 
consult docusave before installing dehumidifiers or ventilators

In case of flood in the archives can humid documents be saved?

Humid documents must be immediately frozen. Afterwards the documents will be dried through vacuum freeze-drying (lyophilisation).

How to proceed in case of flood in the archives? 

get an overview of the situation 
record the situation by taking photos 
contact docusave by telephone
0041 33 346 87 87 or +800 888 777 88
send the photos to docusave ( info@docusave.ch)

Different types of procedure concerning the quantity of material and the extent of the damage 

follow our instructions concerning the procedure to adopt
the appropriate measures for salvage and safeguard can be entrusted to docusave

What is important to consider when dealing with wet documents?

As soon as the wet documents are exposed to the air, the drying procedure will start (for instance by using dehumidifiers, sunlight or high temperatures). There is a risk that the pages will stick together and that there will be an increase of mould growth. These secondary damages can substantially increase costs for the restoration of damaged material.

Can wet documents be air-dried? 

Depending on the material, some objects that are not too wet can be air-dried by fanning the pages. However for materials such as leather, parchment, art paper or modern papers, the type of drying may incur in distortions, adherence or mould. As far as leather is concerned there is also a risk that the book cover will become brittle. 

What type of objects can be dried by vacuum freeze-drying? 

documents and books in general
documents and books that have a certain historical, ideal or materiel value 
art works and cultural assets 
legal security files 
large quantities of photographs and magnetic tape videos

What does „dynamic" vacuum freeze-drying mean?

By using specific software programmes we are able to accurately coordinate the process of vacuum lyophilisation to the type of material and the extent of the damage. These parameters as well as the technical specifications of our installations are based on our paper restoration know-how and our long-standing experience. All the software and machines are developed and built by docusave.

What kind of documents is it possible to dry by using dynamic vacuum freeze-drying? 

large quantities of photos and magnetic tape videos

What kind of impact does fire have in an archive? 

the water used for fire-fighting can result in wet documents
deposits of soot on the documents
smell of smoke coming out of the documents

What is to be taken into account when handling fire-damaged documents?

There is the danger that the soot deposits will be distributed in case of uncontrolled manipulation. 

What is the procedure for the restoration of fire-damaged documents?

freezing the wet/humid documents
vacuum lyophilisation
cleaning the soot particles on the documents 

How many books can be dried all at once at docusave?

from 300 to 400 kg all at once, depending on the size of the books; we have two installations for drying 300 to 400 kg each and one other installation for 200 to 300 kg


How long does it take to dry frozen humid documents? 

from 2 to 7 days, depending on the degree of humidity, on the type of material and the type and extent of contamination

How long does it take to dry frozen wet documents?

from 5 to 21 days, depending on the degree of humidity, the type of material, the extent of contamination and special measures taken

Is it possible to dry documents using the method of vacuum deep-freezing without freezing them before? 

Without freezing the documents, all that we can do is to vacuum dry them. This method, however, does not guarantee the stability of the material, and as a result there is a risk of an increase of mould, the leaflets may stick together etc.  

How many books is it possible to freeze at docusave?

from 1 to 100 tons and more