books of the flood
the city of Hyderabad, India, was flooded last August, the victims
included more than topsoil and livestock. Some 26,000 books and
60,000 periodicals stored in the basement of the Sundarayya Vignana
Kendram Library were buried in nine feet of mud. The collection,
owned by a consortium of universities led by Chicago, includes
books, magazines, and journals from the 19th and 20th centuries
covering the medicine, history, and culture of South Asia and
is one of the largest collections of printed material in the Urdu
Restoration Ltd., a Vancouver-based property restoration company,
has been hired by the consortium to restore the collection. Representatives
from Cromwell are teaching Hyderabad librarians how to use new
devices such as thermal vacuum freeze drying chambers and molecular
sieve drying chambers to clean and dry the damaged materials.
American libraries have had problems with water damage,"
says James Nye, bibliographer of the South Asian collection at
the U of C Library. "And now we're benefitting from the horrible
experiences of others in using techniques to restore this collection."
The books and periodicals are being stored in freezers to prevent
damage from mold and bacteria until they can be cleaned and dried.
estimates that the restoration will take about one year, after
which the collection will remain in India, as required by the
Indian government. The consortium bought the collection in 1996
from a private owner for $50,000 and has been copying the texts
to microfilm to be stored at the Center for Research Libraries
in Chicago. When the flood occurred, about 2,000 of the books
had been recorded on microfilm.-C.S.