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Preservation Interest Group

Guide to provide a forum to learn and share ideas about the various aspects of preservation.

Meeting Overview

The September 17, 2019 Preservation Interest Group meeting on the emergency planning was attended by 11 people representing 10 mostly Capital District institutions. One attendee was from Jefferson County Community College in Watertown, New York!

Facilitators Ann C. Kearney and Karen E. Kiorpes, led a discussion on simple and inexpensive ways to plan for emergencies in libraries and cultural organizations. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 9:30 - 11:00 am at CDLC. The topic will be Integrated Pest Management.  

Meeting Notes

Karen mentioned that she is part of the Capital Region Alliance for Response. This is a group designed to strengthen networks that can respond to disasters in the area. They have a low profile now, but they are looking ot begin a newsletter and continuing education opportunities. 

Discussion of writing emergency plans:

  • Need to have more than one person involved in creating, even if one person writes it. 
    • Creates understanding and buy in among staff and volunteers. 
    • Developing the plan is an educational opportunity for all involved. 
  • Writing plan is free except labor, so good place to start. 
  • Plan should cover: 
    • Immediate response/Salvage
    • Recovery
    • Rehabilitation
  • Don't try to create detailed plan at first or will be overwhelmed. Start small and add detail each year. Plan should be reviewed every year, so can be expanded at annual update. 
  • Vital part of the plan is a communication plan. Who will be called in the event of an emergency? Be sure to have personal numbers for key people since disasters usually happen over holidays. Be sure list is updated annually. 
    • Someone should be predesignated to be in charge of coordinating response. Contact info for this person should be prominent in the communication plan. 
  • Present plan to all staff regularly so when emergency does happen, people remember plan exists and follow it. 
  • Keep condensed version of plan in several off site places and in cloud so can access it even if aren't allowed on site. 
  • First page of plan should be outline of immediate response in the event of a disaster. 
  • Plan will include list of priority items to protect and salvage. Recommend create the priority list as a team so nothing is overlooked. Update this list every year or two, and especially make sure that the physical location listed in the plan for priority items is correct. 
  • Insurance providers may be willing to read your plan and provide input. Many insurance vendors will give you a discount if you maintain an emergency plan. 
  • Larger institutions will have other staff, such as facilities, to write parts of the plan related to medical emergencies, safety and security, etc. If you have these, add them as appendices to the emergency response plan. If you are a small institution, you may be responsible for developing all of these plans. 
  • dPlan is a tool that may be helpful with salvage and mitigation section of plans. dPlan may be too big for many small organizations, but a good way to get an outline and start thinking about what you want to put in a plan. 
  • Risk Assessment - Can do on your own or with a consultant, commercial real estate person. Use Risk Assessment Sheet (see Resources section below). Pick one chronic problem and walk it through the sheet. Do not try to address all risks at once, or you will be overwhelmed. Can work on this over a number of years. 
  • Immediate Response/Salvage
    • Vast majority of emergencies are water-related:
      • All hands on deck
      • Scissors, plastic sheeting, gloves and binder clips are the most important things to have in a disaster kit. 
      • First priority is to move material out of wet space, then cover dry items. Can use binder clips to clip sheeting on shelves.
      •  Take material out of wet boxes as soon as possible. Often the contents will be dry. 
    • Take photos and document throughout the incident and recovery so have info to give to vendors, insurance. Will also help with recovery and rehabilitation. 
    • Boards may want to come in and take over. Give them things to do but remain in control. Remind them that you have been trained to respond. 
    • Waterbugs - Inexpensive local, audible water detectors. Can purchase at hardware stores.


  • Recovery
    • Begin with records identified in plan as priorities for recovery:
      1. Records needed to keep the organization functioning - e.g. catalog, payroll.
      2. Items that you have borrowed from other institutions
      3. Other priorities, such as items central to your organizational mission, rare items. 
  • Discussion 
    • Can have a lock box for the fire department and give the department the master key or code so they don't have to break the door down if there is an emergency. Fire department very open to working with institutions when creating a plan. Can provide the department with floor plans and information about where the priority items for salvage are located. 
    • If part of a larger organization, find out if they have a plan and coordinate with them. Make sure the plans work together. Invite Fire Department in to look at wiring, safety, evacuation plans, extinguishers. Can provide back up authority to support what you are advocating for. 


Next Meeting

Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 9:30-11:00 am

The topic is Integrated Pest Management.  

We’ll talk about your experiences with library and museum pests, and discuss how Integrated Pest Management initiatives—institution-wide policies that make prevention everyone’s responsibility—can be incorporated into the management of collections of any size.Bring any and all questions related to pests!

 For more information and to register, visit



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