Planning for the Worst

Disaster Preparedness and Response in High-Density Storage Facilities

an ALCTS Program

Sunday, June 26, 2011 | 8am to noon

Track: Collection Management and Technical Services

Subtrack: Preservation

While disaster planning in libraries is well established, very few libraries have plans specific to the challenging environment of high-density storage. Simple activities such as removal and tracking of materials become more complicated by barcoded storage trays on 30+ foot high shelves. This program will focus on current disaster research ranging from fire protection and recovery, recovery in shared repository environments, case studies of recovery from water disasters, and perspectives on recovery from non-water events.

A panel discussion will focus on:

  • Overview of the findings of the soon-to-be-completed FM Global study of fire protection in library high density/high bay storage
  • Perspectives on the disaster planning and recovery process as a member of a shared, regional high-density repository (RECAP)
  • Experiences from a small water disaster in the Library of Congress' Collections Storage Facility at Ft Meade, MD, in 2009
  • High Density Storage disaster planning and response for non-water disasters such as earthquakes and mold outbreaks
  • Testing the effects of activated fire suppression systems in high-density storage environments and planned prioritization for optimal material removal


  • Roberta Pilette, Head of Preservation, Yale University Library
  • Janet Gertz, Director, Preservation & Digital Conversion Division, Columbia University Library
  • Beatriz Haspo, Collections Officer, Library of Congress
  • Jacob Nadal, Preservation Officer, UCLA Library
  • Laura Larkin, Special Collections Conservator, and Heather Tennison, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Moderated by Jennifer Hain Teper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cosponsored by PARS.