One of the most common problems in libraries and archives in humid tropical regions is mold. Mold is a general term given to a wide variety of fungi common to most parts of the world. Mold grows through the propagation of its spores, which are always present in the air waiting for the right opportunity to germinate. Moisture provides the necessary conditions for mold germination. The visible signs of mold result from the “flowering” of the spores into mycelium, the familiar, velvet-like surface covering. The mycelium, in turn, becomes powdery and generates more mold spores that become airborne to continue the cycle. At this point, mold spores can be dangerous and the treatment of mold-infected material must be handled with care to avoid inhalation. Although not all molds are toxic to humans, it is important to regard all infestations as possibly toxic and take the appropriate precautions (respirator and gloves) when entering an infested area. The only way to prevent mold is by altering conditions conducive to its growth.
In February 1, 2016, Venice public library in Florida closed down due to mold problems that couldn’t be fixed. Mold was first detected in the 51-year-old building in 2010 but was not dealt with in time. The county cleaned the mold that was underneath the carpets in the meeting room. Then in 2014 more air testing was done and high levels of humidity were found in the building slab. The county shut down the library, concluding that they would no longer invest more money in the building’s clean-up or renovations.
Posted by Sage Kaonohi, ‘Ulu’ulu Intern