Salvaging damaged collections

Queensland is prone to humid and stormy weather.  Cyclones and floods are becoming increasingly common in the summer months.  Have your precious items suffered damage in a flood or a storm?  Have your treasures been attacked by mould or pests?

Help is at hand!  Our conservation experts have gathered together the most effective methods to ensure the long-term preservation of your precious family objects: books, diaries, pictures, and photographs.

Dealing with disaster

Part one: how to recover a flood-damaged collection

Catch your breath and make a plan to salvage your collection in the event of disaster—ensuring personal safety, gathering supplies, setting up a salvage station, and safely removing items from a disaster site.

Part two: how to salvage your water damaged collection

Take the first steps to salvage water damaged collections — washing off mud and other contaminants, drying, and freezing wet collections with a focus on paper based collections.

Steps to salvage water damaged paper, book, photographic, and audiovisual collections. It is important to attend to the damage as quickly as possible to prevent permanent damage and mould growth.


Moulds can be dangerous to people as well as collections. This guide will help you prevent mould and treat mould affected collections.


Freezing is an effective alternative to chemical methods for insect eradication in certain types of material, particularly paper based collections. It can also be used to buy time when treating water damaged and mould affected material. It provides valuable time to seek assistance from a conservator.


The loss can be catastrophic when disasters like fire and flood affect organisations with large collections; not just from the initial event but from lack of resources and ability to intervene and act quickly to salvage material. It is always best to be prepared, have procedures in place in readiness to act quickly, and have professional contacts at hand to help. You can use this counter disaster plan template document and tailor it to your organisation. Any form of disaster preparation can minimise the loss of your collection and ensure staff know what to do when disaster hits.