Disaster Planning

Q. There was recently a flash flood in a neighboring town--and it seems like there's another earthquake reported every week.  Our library doesn't have a disaster plan.  Where can I get help in writing one?

A. There are a number of resources available to you. Start with the "Disaster Recovery" resources prepared by members of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services as background material for the first ever Preservation Week, May 9-15, 2010.

Be sure to work with your local government and your state library, as your plan needs to work in concert with those developed for larger areas. Some state libraries or regional consortia will have resources of their own. The California Preservation Program of the California State Library, for example, has a disaster plan template available. LYRASIS Preservation Field Service Program has extensive resources available for its members, as do other regional networks.

There are also workshops, such as those available online from LYRASIS or the tailored on-site workshop available from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). Again, check with your local consortium, state association, or state library to see what might be available in your area--or to see what would be entailed in bringing one of the workshops from ALCTS, NEDCC or LYRASIS to your area.

We've collected additional disaster readiness resources on our Professional Tips wiki.



I think that you are getting great advice on how to get the right format for your disaster management program. I am one of those people that respond to disasters and would like to add a couple of things:


1. If possible photo document your archives and the building they are housed in. Once the area is designated  a disaster area you will     need this information to prove the pre-existing condition of the archives and the building.

2. Establish a relationship with the building engineers now. Usually they are the decision makers for the recovery effort of the building that directly effect your archives. They need to understand in advance what your collection really means to the community and how it might not be replaceable.

3. Your state archives division should have list of organizations that can help support your efforts as you develop your disaster program

A piece of advice:

After 14 hurricanes, 15 floods, and some odd manmade disasters I have learned is to expect all logical predicted outcomes of your plan will fall short of achieving your goal. Your plan must be designed to move with the emergency as it happens in real time and does not position your people in harms way.  


Once the event has run its coarse stick to your guns and protect your collection. Shoring up support prior to the disaster and having a plan in place will help you and save your documents.