29 Nov 2012

Arrive prepared: emergency response management in the library

Last week Trev and I attended an instructive seminar on emergency response management for archives, records, libraries and museums hosted by Harwell*. Some sensible and very practical advice was given on how to optimally prepare for the ghastly spectre of a smoked out and/or flooded library.

Take a look at this stream of images, captured by Jim Miles of the University at Buffalo Law Library.

Water damage and recovery from July-August 2006,
University at Buffalo Law Library
They very much illustrate what sort of damage a flooding incident can do to your library and information service. Calamities of all proportions were discussed, which I’m sure cross your mind every now and then but never really come to the forefront until disaster strikes. Chaos, operational downtime and the possible (irreversible?) loss of library resources can be contained if you arrive on the scene prepared.

Being prepared means to kick-start a well-thought through set of appropriate countermeasures. Instantly. Without delay. Time is of the essence: recover everything wet within 72 hours.

We were walked through various flooding/fire examples and the specific responses to each of these incidents. Of primary concern was the importance of implementing an optimal recovery strategy that meets the specific demands of your collection context. This includes appropriate handling procedures, avoidance of secondary damage and the action of effective salvage strategies.

Health and safety issues were also discussed (e.g. the risks of foul-water flooding, mould growth and generally hazardous environments).

Check out the full presentation for detailed information.

Harwell also kindly provided us with a template disaster plan (long version vs. short version).

*Disclaimer: the above piece does not constitute a commercial endorsement of Harwell.


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