Disasters strike every area of the country, and disasters do not spare libraries. Usually there is little or no warning, and the best defense is a plan for effective response.
This fact sheet is a selective resource for libraries of all sizes and types. It contains links to disaster preparedness web sites whose primary role is emergency response or conservation, and to information on available training, and to other available resources, as well contains a select book bibliography.
Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel. Developed by the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel has essential information to help you cope quickly and effectively when disaster strikes. The wheel can be purchased from the task force directly. The Heritage Emergency National Task Force is a partnership of 29 federal agencies, national service organizations (including the American Library Association), and private institutions. It has two major goals: 1) safeguarding America's cultural heritage from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies and 2) using its expertise to help the general public recover from disasters.
You can access the information from the previous 1997 edition of the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel online; visit the Emergency Response Action Steps and its accompanying General Salvage Techniques web pages at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) web site.
The redesigned FEMA web site more explicitly provides disaster resources, with pages to Get Disaster Info, Plan Ahead, Apply for Assistance, and Recover & Rebuild. These resources are also available as tailored for various affected groups, including Institutions and Businesses and Professionals, plus a FEMA for Kids section.
The Artifact Research Center (The ARC) is a laboratory facility specializing in the analysis, interpretation, and preservation of archaeological and archived materials. Offers freeze-drying services to a variety of private, museum, government, conservation, and cultural resource management clients.
Baltimore Academic Library Consortium (BALC) Disaster Preparedness Plan. Includes information on disaster recovery of library materials and a list of supplies, experts and services to assist during a disaster. The web site provides a searchable database of these resources and a page to add a resource. While the majority of the resources are from the Washington/Baltimore area, contributions from any area are welcome.
CoOL - Conservation OnLine: Resources for Conservation Professionals. Probably the main web resource for conservation and preservation information. Links to many other agencies, as well as a directory for locating people involved with conservation and other allied professions.
Cultural Preservation & Restoration, Inc., (CPR). Offers a wide range of conservation and museum services. Best known for specializing in archaeological conservation, they also specialize in conservation of objects, sculptures, painting, ethnographic materials, textiles, metals, stone, glass, and wood.
The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) is a collaborative multi-state effort by Extension Services across the country to reduce the impact of disasters. The site, which is designed to provide access to resources on disaster preparedness, recovery, and mitigation, features a searchable database.
The Flood Recovery Booklet of the Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium is a compilation of resources useful for an individual or an institution. Begin with the booklet's table of contents.
The Minnesota Historical Society offers specific information on recovery of a range of materials, not just standard library materials.
The Missouri State Library Local Records Preservation Program has assembled a range of resources, including resources for disaster preparation planning and disaster response services.
Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) Disaster Assistance. Description of NEDCC's emergency assistance program for institutions and individuals with damaged paper-based collections.
The Regional Alliance for Preservation lists organizations throughout the United States that can provide disaster-recovery advice and (in some cases) conservation treatment for damaged items.
SOLINET Preservation and Access Resources, Disaster Mitigation & Recovery Resources. A range of resources, from services available from SOLINET to leaflets in both English and Spanish.
FEMA Emergency Management Institute(EMI). There are Independent Study Courses on disaster preparedness, disaster assistance, and hazardous materials available to the general public from the EMI at no cost. Special seminars, workshops, and broadcasts are offered at no cost via satellite as part of FEMA's Preparedness Network, called PREPnet.
Upcoming Preservation Workshops sponsored by SOLINET. See the Educational Services page for registration information.
Alire, Camila (editor). Library Disaster Planning and Recovery Handbook. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2000.
Breighner, Mary and William Payton; Jeanne M. Drews, ed. The Risk and Insurance Management Manual for Libraries. Chicago: Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA), a division of ALA, 2005.
Brooks, Constance. Disaster Preparedness. Washington, DC: ARL, 1993.
Dodson, Suzanne Cates and Johanna G Wellheiser. Bibliography of Standards and Selected References Related to Preservation in Libraries. Library and Archives Canada, 1996.
Drewes, Jeanne M. & Julie A. Page. Promoting Preservation Awareness in Libraries: A Sourcebook. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1997.
Field Guide to Emergency Response: A Vital Tool for Cultural Institutions (Instructional DVD Included). Washington, DC: Heritage Preservation, 2006.
Fox, Lisa. "Since You Asked …" [response to question about hurricane recovery] Episcopal Life, October 2005. Available online at
Halsted, Deborah D., Richard P. Jasper, and Felicia M. Little. Disaster Planning: A How-to-Do-It Manual for Librarians with Planning Templates on CD-ROM. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2005.
Kahn, Miriam. Disaster Response and Planning for Libraries, Second Edition. Chicago: ALA, 2003.
Kahn, Miriam. Protecting Your Library's Digital Sources: The Essential Guide to Planning and Preservation. Chicago: ALA, 2004.
Murray, Toby. Bibliography on Disasters, Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Recovery. Tulsa, OK: University of Tulsa, 1987.
Rhodes, Barbara J. Hell & Highwater: A Disaster Information Sourcebook. New York: METRO, 1989.
Trinkley, Michael. Hurricane! Surviving the Big One: A Primer for Libraries, Museums and Archives. Atlanta, GA: SOLINET, 1993.
Waters, Peter. Procedures for Salvage of Water-Damaged Materials. 1993.
Wellheiser, Johanna G., and Jude Scott. An Ounce of Prevention: Integrated Disaster Planning for Archives, Libraries, and Record Centres, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002.
Wellheiser, Johanna G., and Nancy E. Gwinn. Preparing for the Worst, Planning for the Best: Protecting Our Cultural Heritage from Disaster: Proceedings of A Conference Sponsored by the IFLA Preservation and Conservation Section, the IFLA Core Activity for Preservation and Conservation, and the Council on Library and Information Resources, Inc., with the Akademie der Wissenschaften and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany, July 30 - August 1, 2003. München: K.G. Saur, 2005.
Please send comments or suggestions for other resources to include to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on this or other fact sheets, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail: email@example.com; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.