Today DCA staff attended disaster preparedness training. Among the many useful facts we learned (for example, long sleeves, gloves, and freezers are all key ingredients to a good disaster response), we learned the basics of how to deal with ash and soot. Ash and soot are greasy and gritty, get everywhere, and can't be brushed off like dust or mold, so a vacuum is needed to clean them up properly.
This made me wonder what would have been left if a vacuum had been used to clean up poor Jumbo after the Barnum Hall fire:
[Image no longer available. 5/5/2017]
Disasters do happen. In the 1960s and 1970s Tufts suffered what Russell Miller calls "a plague of fires". The 1971 firebombing of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy resulted in considerable loss of "books, photographs, and other irreplaceable memorabilia".
Luckily, most of the Barnum collection's correspondence and memorabilia had already been deposited in the University Archives, and therefore escaped damage in the Barnum Hall fire. But what if the fire were here in our stacks? The more we learn about how to deal with soot and ash (not to mention water damage, pests, mold, and all the other disasters which can strike collections), the better prepared we will be to handle those disasters if they ever come.
Now I just need to remember my fire extinguisher training. Point, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep, right?