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Storage and Care of Architectural Records

This guide is meant to be a general overview of best practices that can be implemented and resources that can be consulted for the preservation of architectural record materials. The intended audiences are institutions that hold architectural records as p

Disaster Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

Disaster Prevention, Prepardness, and Response

Prevention - Some disasters can be avoided by following guidelines for the environment, storage, use and handling for your collections. Keep an eye on the building fabric and its relationship to your storage area. Identify, repair or avoid sites of previous leaks or problems. Monitor your storage locations throughout the year to identify any hazard or patters (ex. leaves building up in outdoor drain, causing water to back up around a basement window). Proper storage and handling will reduce accident risk. Avoid below-ground or attic storage wherever possible.

Preparedness - Have a PLAN. A disaster plan is your best friend in case of emergency, whether that be flood, fire, pest/mold invasion or accident (ex. shelving collapse). A disaster plan has many components, including identifying and creating a team of staff members and contacts responsible for disaster response and salvage, identifying salvage priorities and procedures, insurance, communications, payroll, cataloging, etc.

Lear disaster assessment, communication and salvage skills. Many resources are available to help you learn how to assess and handle emergencies appropriately, showing you how and when to respond yourself or when to call in additional help. Disaster related preservation support organizations, printed manuals, books, and online resources are all listed in the Additional Resources page.

Response - In the event of collections-related disaster, do not attempt to enter the area if there is a danger to your health and safety. Do not enter a flooded room until you know the electrical current has been shut off. Unless you have had disaster recovery training, do not attempt to rescue materials yourself and consult immediately with preservation support organizations offering disaster-related support. They can help you determine the severity of the situation, point you to appropriate resources and some may be able to assist in recovery efforts. Inform your disaster action team, administration and physical plant.

If it is a small controllable or if you are familiar with emergency response procedures, do as much as you safely can to: determine and mitigate the source of the problem (ex. pipe burst, locate and shut off water valve); isolate materials or restrict access to the objects or room; take steps to lower the temperature and relative humidity, install fans and dehumidifiers, empty dehumidifiers frequently' consult print and web resources, preservation support organizations or your disaster recovery contacts regarding recovery, cleaning, disposal and remediation of the source problem.

Assistance - For federal emergency response in a large scale disaster, you can find your state Federal Emergency Management Director at their page,  State Offices and Agencies of Emergency Management. For smaller scale disasters, many library and preservation organization operate disaster response activities discrete regional areas of the US.  Use the Disaster Preparedness Clearinghouse to find your local library disaster network for more resources

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