- Disasters include fire, flood, wind, tornado, vandalism, and malfunctioning building equipment such as burst water pipes. They can occur anytime without warning.
- A disaster plan is a document that describes the procedures devised to prevent and prepare for disasters, and those proposed to respond to and recover from disasters when they occur.
A set of plans and guidelines, prepared in advance by the staff of a library, to deal with a major occurrence such as a flood or fire which could damage equipment, collections, and/or facilities to such an extent that services might have to be temporarily suspended.
Joan M. Reitz. ODLIS
Disaster preparedness… the comprehensive term that describes strategies employed to protect library and archives collections from any unexpected or accidental loss from external causes. Sometimes these are minor, such as those resulting from leaks in the roof or plumbing system. Other times they are major floods, fires, earthquakes, and the like.
Lisa L. Fox. Disaster Preparedness Workbook for U.S. Navy Libraries and Archives
Every disaster has three phases:
- Preventative plans recommending action to prevent most disasters, e.g.
- Repair leaking roof
- Improve maintenance
- Upgrade security
- Preparedness plans designed to ensure identified disasters can be managed, e.g.
- Identification of important items in collection
- Purchase of plastic sheeting
- Identifying freezing facilities
- Staff training in disaster response
- Response to disaster
- Recovery plans implemented
- Because each disaster is unique recovery plans can never cover all possibilities, however, most library disasters involve water damage so all key personnel should be familiar with salvage methods for wet library material
- Conduct a risk analysis
- Identify existing preventive and preparedness procedures
- Make recommendations to implement additional preventive and preparedness procedures
- Allocate responsibilities
- Devise procedures to respond to and recover from disasters
- To gain some peace of mind
- To respond more effectively
- Requires time and energy
- Disasters only happen to others
- U.S. studies show a library worker has a 2 in 5 chance of participating in a major disaster in a 40 year career
- Blizzard or heavy snow fall
- Severe heat wave, cold snap
- Severe thunderstorm
- Lightning strike
- Sleet, hail, ice
- Wind storm, tornado, cyclone
- Dust storm or prolonged drought
- Collisions or crashes involving aircraft, trains, motor vehicles
- Transport of dangerous materials
- Infrastructure breakdowns
- Electrical power failure
- Downed power or phone lines
- Faulty wiring
- Water supply failure
- Broken water or sewer lines
- Sewer failure or backup
- Faulty heating systems
- Industrial disasters
- Major fuel spill
- Chemical spill structural collapse
- Structural fire
- Biological hazards
- Mould and mildew
- Human activity
- Bomb threat
- Hostage situation
- Riot, civil disorder, strike
- Sabotage and malicious mischief
- Work-place violence
- Disaster team members and duties
- Emergency instructions
- Priorities for salvaging materials
- Recovery techniques and procedures for salvaging damaged materials
- Emergency phone numbers
- Inventory of the disaster response closet, location of keys to the closet
- Disaster response reports (master copy only)
- List of suppliers and resources (large freezers, freeze-drying facilities, etc.)
- Distribution of copies of disaster plan
- Revision table (master copy only)
- Salvage if time permits
- Salvage as part of a general clean-up
- Salvage at all costs
- Is item especially important to the community?
- Can item be replaced?
- At what cost?
- Would cost of replacement be more or less than restoration?
- How important is the item to the collection?
- Most disasters tend to occur when building is unoccupied (night, weekends, holidays)
- Over 90% of all disasters will result in water damaged materials
- Mould can develop within 48 to 72 hours in a warm humid environment
- Air-drying – labour and space intensive but cheap, not recommended for coated glossy paper as in magazines (pages can become permanently stuck together)
- Freezing – stabilizes wet materials and provides time to plan course of action
- Vacuum freeze drying – safest and most successful salvage method for paper but most expensive
A wealth of material exists in print and on the Internet.
Fortson, Judith. Disaster Planning and Recovery. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1992.
Kahn, Miriam. Disaster Response and Planning for Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998.
Moore, Mary. “Attack of the Killer Mold Spores.” American Libraries 30 (March 1999): 46-9.
Wettlaufer, Brian. “Preparing a Library Disaster Plan.” Library Mosaics 5 (November 1995): 6-10.
Amigos Library Services, Inc. A Disaster Plan for Libraries and Archives, 2008 http://www.amigos.org/preservation/disasterplan.pdf
Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists. Preservation Publications. http://www.srmarchivists.org/resources/preservation/preservation-publications/
Fox, Lisa L. Disaster Preparedness Workbook for U.S. Navy Libraries and Archives http://resources.conservation-us.org/disaster/
McColgin, Michael. Disaster Recovery Plan. http://www.srmarchivists.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/disaserplan.pdf
SEFLIN Preservation and Conservation Committee. Disaster Plans on the Internet. http://web.archive.org/web/20070308203017/http://www.seflin.org/preserv/intplans.html
SOLINET. Disaster Mitigation and Recovery Resources. http://www.solinet.net/preservation/presevation_templ.cfm?doc_id=71
Stanford University Libraries. Preservation Dept. “Disaster Preparedness and Response.” CoOL: Conservation OnLine http://cool.conservation-us.org/