Related product Collections Management

Disaster Planning 101: Seven-Steps to Preparing a Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan

Heidi Marshall, Head Archives & Collections, Columbia College Chicago

A disaster preparedness plan is designed to reduce the impact of mold, water, pests, and other issues that may affect our collections and enable us to react quickly in emergencies within your library and archive collections. Authoring such a plan isn’t difficult, especially if taken in a few key steps:   

1. Establish an internal disaster response team, define roles, and draft a plan.

Include Facilities staff in your group.

2. Gather information & incorporate into your recovery plan.

Include plan information specific to your institutional collection needs.

3. Assess threats to collections from the building and take steps to mitigate risks.

Walk the outside and inside of the building housing collections

4. Identify an external support network.

Build campus, local, state, and national support structures into your plan

5. Prioritize collections and items for first salvage.

Identify vital collections or items for first salvage keeping in mind what is most important to your institution such as this NARA webpage.

6. Train all staff involved in disaster response and recovery.

Library and Facilities staff should be trained in the plan.

7. Review the disaster response plan and train staff annually.

Regular training for all involved should take place as staff leave, collection priorities change, and practice keeps staff sharp.


Return to Disaster Planning 101.