Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Disaster Planning for Records Management

Recently some members of CART (the library's Collections Action and Response Team) visited the college's Records Management facility. Members of CART have basic training and knowledge in disaster recovery and preparedness, and participate in disaster planning for all library spaces and library storage areas. The group included Preservation Services staff and interns along with CART members from 2 satellite libraries. Our goals for this visit included discussion with Records Management staff to familiarize CART members with the high density storage facility, evaluate the current disaster plan and available resources, brainstorm to anticipate special needs in the event of a disaster, and compile a list of recommended information and items to have on site.

Upon arriving on location and having a brief introduction in the Records Management office, a member of Records Management staff gave a tour of the facility including a walk through the storage shelving, loading areas, and staff offices. Following our tour, we gathered for a group question and discussion session. CART members had many questions which spurred thoughtful discussion. As a result we identified and located items at Records Management that could be useful in a recovery effort, as well as generated a list of additional items to have on hand. Throughout the visit our Recorder kept careful notes, in particular the questions that couldn't be easily answered.

Some things to think about when creating a disaster plan are:
  • Who should be notified, and in what order?
  • Are there any security concerns? Do the people with security clearance have disaster recovery training?
  • Is all necessary information, records, catalogs, and building diagrams available at the site as well as off site?
  • Are high priority items labeled and easy to remove from site?
  • Is the disaster recovery team trained and prepared to deal with all varieties of material?
  • Are materials protected from automated systems on premises including sprinkler systems?
  • Are all exits visible, labeled, and accessible? Are fire extinguishers visible and inspected?
  • Always prioritize safety first.

For more information on disaster preparedness for libraries and archives, check out the American Library Association's Disaster Response Library Fact Sheet.

Written by Elizabeth Rideout.

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