The following is a reprint of an article by Anne Harrison, FLICC/FEDLINK, that first appeared in The Gazette, an internal publication of the Library of Congress, July 17, 2009.
Area Libraries Prepare for Disaster Recovery
When disaster strikes, 42 Washington area librarians, archivists, conservators and historians will be prepared to collaborate in the recovery of water-damaged collections.
They attended a daylong workshop on disaster-recovery planning—“Getting Your Feet Wet: Recovery of Water-damaged Collections”—at the Library on June 24. The Library’s Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC), in cooperation with the Preservation Directorate and the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC), sponsored the training.
In a morning session, the Library’s Alan Haley, a book conservator, and Emma Lincoln, a preservation education specialist, presented information about risk assessment and mitigation, damage prevention through environmental monitoring, awareness of safety concerns, and options for disaster response. The instructors illustrated salvage techniques, such as air-drying books, paper, and animal skins; washing mud off collections materials; handling wet photographic, audio-visual, and magnetic media; and packing materials for freeze-drying. They showed several video demonstrations of disaster-response procedures. The videos are available on the LC Preservation Directorate website at www.loc.gov/preserv/.
In the afternoon, the instructors conducted a simulated disaster, providing participants with an opportunity to practice salvaging library materials in a safe and supportive environment.
Participants completed the workshop with an understanding of the need for teamwork, knowledge of how to equip themselves and their institutions for a disaster, and a substantial set of information resources for further study.
Heritage Preservation, a Washington nonprofit dedicated to preserving the nation’s cultural heritage, provided copies of “Working with Emergency Responders,” a poster-size document on communicating with local emergency responders. Five participants—winners of the “Guess that drying method” quiz—left the workshop with a salvage wheel, a tool that provides immediate access to information on action to take when responding to a disaster and tips for salvaging collections.
This workshop was the latest in a series of programs co-hosted by the Library’s Preservation Directorate and the FLICC Disaster Preparedness Working Group for the FLICC Safety Net cooperative, a network of federal libraries in the Washington, D.C., region. These libraries are signatories to a charter of voluntary mutual disaster assistance in which they pledged assistance to one another in the event of a disaster.
To see the charter, visit the Charter of Federal Library Mutual Disaster Assitance [PDF file: 721.5 KB / 3 pgs]. For more information about Safety Net, contact Anne Harrison in FLICC/FEDLINK at [email protected].