Flood Preparedness, Response and Recovery section added to the DP3 website

Dye bleed and coating delamination during water immersionIPI has recently updated its DP3 Project website with new pages addressing water emergency preparedness, response, and recovery for inkjet collections in cultural institutions.

The new pages start with an overview to help understand the layout and location of specific types of information, it then has separate sections that show how best to prepare collections before an adverse event to mitigate or minimize damage, how best to evaluate what has occurred in order to make the right decisions during recovery, and finally, guidance on how to manage the recovery and drying process to get objects stabilized and safe from further harm.

There are already large volumes of inkjet-printed photographs and fine art in museum and other cultural collections. Unfortunately, most are considerably more sensitive to water than traditional prints, and some can even harm adjacent materials during water emergencies. Currently, most collection care personnel do not have the requisite knowledge or training to respond to inkjet prints damaged by flood or other unintended exposures to water.

Examining the effects of water dropletsIPI began its research in this area in 2007 during our IMLS-funded project DP3 Project: Digital Print Preservation Portal (Part II) - Evaluations of the Effects of Housing, Handling, and Flood on Modern Digital Prints. That effort focused on several areas of digital print collection care including selecting appropriate housing and display materials, defining the effects of handling, and finally on establishing and quantifying the risk of damage due to flood. That initial work resulted in new water-resistance test methods that could accurately assess the way water harms digital prints including color bleed, cracking, delamination, blocking, etc. The new test methods were then used to rank the water resistance of the broad range of digital print types found in collections. The types and degrees of damage were found to be highly dependent on the types of colorants used coupled with the chemical/physical nature of the papers. While that work was a major step forward, it focused on a single wet time and used only clean tap water. Real-life water emergencies are complex, dynamic, and individually unique. Most importantly, the results showed that the digital prints were dramatically more sensitive to water than traditional wet-processed photography and desperately need new best practices for water emergency preparedness, response and recovery.Optical Brightening Agents bleed into water during testing (photo under UV light)

In 2013, IPI received a new IMLS grant for a follow-up to build on that earlier work and perform additional research to finalize a set of effective disaster prevention, response, and recovery strategies for inkjet prints in museum collections. This project addressed advanced questions such as:

  • Can we predict what condition will an inkjet collection be in when access to the flooded environment is granted and salvage begins?
  • What happens when the offending water is dirty or salty?
  • How and when should prints be rinsed?
  • Do different enclosure materials and designs exacerbate problems or provide some level of protection? 
  • How long does it take for prints to dry?

Based on the research above, this new section of the DP3 project website addresses those questions and provides collection care personnel with the information and tools they need: first, to minimize risk of damage; second, to respond most efficiently during the event; and third, to retrieve and stabilize exposed materials following such unfortunate events.

Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome: dmbpph@rit.edu

These research and development projects were funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Funding for the DP3 Project website was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.