The National Archives of Fiji carried out an in-house training to restore archival records when it becomes waterlogged.
The training was conducted by the Island Culture Archival Support executive director, Brendan Oswald. The Masters in Archives and Records Management graduate has years of experience in both library and archives development.
Mr Oswald is in the country at the invitation of the University of South Pacific and was able to share with officers at the National Archives on how to salvage records waterlogged after a disaster. With basic items such as straws, blotting paper and tissues rolls, he demonstrated how water damaged documents could be air-dried to allow for the restoration process to follow.
“It takes 24-48 hours before mould starts to set it, so this is your window period”, Mr Oswald said. “It’s recommended that this is done indoors, you can use fans to circulate the air in the room.
He demonstrated to participants from the conservation, library and record keeping units, how to lift soaked materials such as photographs, soft and hard covered books, maps and sheets of paper and place them expertly over blotting paper. Tissues were carefully placed between pages to soak up excess water.
The Archives Conservation Unit Assistant Archivist Salanieta Rakarawa said the training would assist her in her work. “This will help us a lot in this unit. We have not had this type of training before. It will be useful and it’s economical. The use of straws to dry papers and tissue rolls is interesting and very cost effective.
Mr Oswald added that disaster preparedness was an important for any archival institution and that in the Pacific it was even more important to be ready for any natural disaster. He will be working with the National Archives to look into drafting a disaster preparedness policy.