The national library of France (BnF) underwent in January 2014 an important water leakage on the site François-Mitterrand, due to a pipe burst. Although firefighters on site react rapidly, already 25
The national library of France (BnF) underwent in January 2014 an important water leakage on the site François-Mitterrand, due to a pipe burst. Although firefighters on site react rapidly, already 25 cubic meters of water flowed into the closest storage rooms and through the expansion joints to the lower levels of repositories causing damages to 10 000 to 12 000 documents of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Emergency plan was quickly deployed involving a large staff to evacuate and dry the affected documents. The major challenge was to deal with large quantities of collections before the occurrence of an infestation. The dissemination of the emergency plan ‘procedures since their inception in the year 2 000 helped the library staff respond quickly and thus limit the damage and side effects of flooding on the documents. The risk of development of micro-organisms was avoided at each step of interventions. But other difficulties arose which led us to take a second look at our procedures. Situations of congestion related to the management of large quantities of documents extracted of the affected repositories occurred in the drying rooms and led us to examine the relevance of our sorting chains. Sorting of documents applies when influx of damaged documents beyond the possibility of immediate treatment require a collective instead of individual use of resources. It consists in categorizing damaged documents for evacuations and for treatments. The three categories used where based on a quick look at the state of the documents: dry, wet or damp. These sorting channels were found insufficient to face the large quantity of documents and in apprioriate as a criteria of choice in a decision process. In this process, coated papers or leather covers for instance which require immediate and specific actions could be at risk if not set apart. Instead sorting channels based on the constituent materials and their vulnerability appeared to be more efficient and immediately transposed in sheets of intervention. Sorting appeared to be a key step for the efficiency of the treatments and also a tool for the management of the teams.
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