Paper Deodorization Chamber

Images and text by Garry Harrison,
Head, Circulating Collections Conservation,
Indiana University Libraries

Web design by Jake Nadal,
former Head, Preservation Department,
Indiana University Libraries



(Click on this image to begin slide show.)

We frequently receive paper materials in need of deodorization. Most commonly, the odor is due to the materials having been stored in basements or other spaces conducive to mold growth. Often the materials harbor no mold growth, active or inactive, but reek of it due to long-term exposure to volatile organic compounds emitted by mold.

Largely through our own experimentation, we have concluded that the most effective tool for deodorizing moldy-smelling paper is airflow. This makes sense, physically. Just as mold remediation requires removal of the mold, paper deodorization requires removal of the VOCs. This amounts to rinsing the materials, so to speak, with lots of air.

Books are usually not all that difficult to deal with. Normally, standing them upright and fanning them open makes the surfaces of their leaves accessible enough that the air can do its work. Large volumes of loose single-sheet paper materials are considerably more problematic.

Recently we received just such a lot, ranging from standard document-sized materials down to clippings about the size of sports cards, all very fragrant from the perfume of mold. The materials were in folders, so the contents of each had to be kept separated. We decided to devise an enclosure for dealing with the task of deodorizing these materials, employing the use of a Nederman vacuum trunk, which we have in our workshop. The slide show documents the basics of its construction and functionality.


We wanted the enclosure to be capable of:

* holding a worthwhile volume of loose documents
* allowing a high volume of airflow throughout
* keeping each folder's worth of contents separated
* collapsing for space-efficient storage when not in use

Using the Manual

To facilitate convenient navigation and use, the procedural parts of this manual are presented in slide show form. As you can see above, clicking on the image shown on each treatment's front page begins the slide show.

Here are the navigational options within each slide. To view this information in illustrated form see the map image below.

Each slide offers the following capabilities:

* Thumbnail images of the entire treatment procedure are in a vertical column to the left. The progression is downward, beginning at the top and ending at the bottom. By clicking on any of these images, you can go to that point in the procedure.

* Clicking on any page's main image opens a larger version of the image in a separate window.

* Button links are provided to return to this page, to go to the next and previous slides in the series, and to go to the complete table of contents for the entire manual.

* The text is dotted with links to tools, materials, glossary terms, and other treatments. Linked text is gray in color and turns red when the pointer encounters it.

Map Image


Table of