UI Libraries Conservator Gary Frost has been working with product developer Nicholas Yeager at Artifex Equipment to test a new super-absorbent paper product in disaster recovery. This paper is infused with corn-starch based powder which quickly wicks water out of damaged books and magazines.
Recently, Frost had an opportunity to put this paper to the test, when a roof leak at the Hardin Library damaged some journals. Many of those journals are printed on glossy, coated paper stock, which is generally not recoverable from water damage. Using this special paper, the Libraries conservation and preservation staff were able to save these journals.
In a May 1 article in the USDA News the Agricultural Research Service noted Frost’s amazement at Zorbix’s ability to absorb and release water, a feature he says makes the sheets easier to reuse than the aqueous poultices and blotters he has worked with. “The sheets play the same role more efficiently,” he says. Frost foresees uses for Zorbix beyond those pertaining solely to library-disaster scenarios, like flooding. “I’m confident there’s a wider market for it associated with the routine restoration of documents of all kinds.” New applications are likely to arise, he adds, as conservators become even more familiar with the product’s properties.