Preservation Week 2023: Building Resilient Communities

Each year, we participate in Preservation Week sponsored by Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures with the objective to inspire action “to preserve personal, family, and community collections in addition to library, museum, and archive collections.” Preservation Week offers us a time to annually share the work we do with preserving local history and culture, but it also allows us to support our community in preserving their own collections.

The ways we assist with preserving historical and cultural materials is by offering our Preservation Workshop series, special programs on various conservation and and preservation topics, and blog posts on techniques or project we had completed to preserve our collections.

For this Preservation Week, we wanted to focus on disaster preparedness and planning. Here are highlights from our Preservation Workshop we host on Thursday, May 4th.

Disaster vs. Emergency

Disaster – A sudden accident or natural catastrophe that has the potential to cause great damage or loss of life.  

Disasters can be broken into two categories:

  • Minor Incident (-500): Might not be noticed for some time. Pages stuck together in clay-coated stock. From leaking pipes, spills 
  • Major Incident (500+): Access to collections could be restricted for an extended period. From storm damage, flood, water main break, fire 

Emergency – A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.  

Disasters and emergencies have many similarities and may require similar actions to treat and preserve collections.

Emergency Management Terms 

  • HIRA – Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment – systematic approach, determine objective of hazard and provide techniques to manage the risk. 
  • EOC – Emergency Operating Center – centralized location, supports and helps coordinate operations 
  • ICS – Incident Command System – used by public agencies to manage emergencies 
  • NIMS – National Incident Management System – guides all levels to work together to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and recover 
  • Partner Annexes – IDs coordinating agency and cooperating agencies 
  • Damage Assessment – implemented by emergency management agencies, assign resources to appropriate response & recovery activities  

Types of Disasters 

  • Natural – thunderstorm, hurricane, flooding, winter storm, extreme cold, extreme heat, tornado, earthquake, pandemic 
  • Everyday – structural fire, power outage/blackout, medical emergency 
  • Man-made (accidental or intentional) – cyber attack, civil disorder, acts of violence/terrorism, hazardous materials, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear, dam failure 

4 stages of Emergency Management 

  • Mitigation/Prevention – prevent future emergencies or minimize their effects  
  • Preparedness – take actions ahead of time to be ready for an emergency 
  • Response – rebuild from an emergency 
  • Recovery – protect life and property in an emergency 

What is a Disaster Plan & Why should you have one?

A Disaster Plan is a guiding document that will help staff manage a disaster, or an actively maintained document containing procedures and information needed to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.  

Tells you what to do and how; protects the safety of people and property; facilitates a quicker return to normal operations; reduces losses; more prepared organizations mean a more resilient community; disasters are occurring with more frequency; non-clouded thought process (AJ Seely). 

Elements of a Disaster Plan

  • Immediate Response – list of numbers to have on hand when you need them 
  • Disaster Response Team – Leader, Communication Coordinator, Administration of Supplies, Collections Care, Documentation Coordinator 
  • Emergency Services and Contacts – fire, ambulance, police, emergency management, utilities 
  • Insurance – policy information, agent name and number, value estimation for your collections 
  • Facilities – floor plans, utilities shut offs, fire suppression, first aid 
  • Disaster Response Supply Inventory – keep up to date, protective equipment, salvage supplies 
  • Salvage Priorities – most important that you want saved, technology files (hard drives) 
  • About this Plan – why you have it, who maintains it 

Disaster Plan Templates  

Connecting with Emergency Responders 

Ways to Connect:

  • Have police & fire to do a walk-through
  • Invite them to an event
  • Ask for help with a site assessment and emergency planning
  • Invite emergency responders to participate in your training and drills
  • Bring food 

What they should know:

  • That your institution holds the collective memory and culture for your community
  • Your collections may be irreplaceable
  • Libraries and cultural institutions can be helpful in recovery, as information centers and community gathering places
  • Your layout – floor plans, location of building electrical and water systems, etc.  

Resources for Dealing with Disasters

  • City Emergency Management – As a component of the City and County’s Energy Assurance Plan, the City and County were able to develop an emergency preparedness guide. This comprehensive guide provides clear information about ways the Community can stay informed, be prepared, lower risk, prepare for and recover from many natural disasters and other events that cause short and long term disruption of energy resources. The guide provides information on warning sirens, what to do with animals in an emergency, how to prepare if you require prescriptions and more.
  • County Emergency Management Agency – Scott County Iowa, 1100 E. 46th St. Davenport, IA 52807 563-484-3050
  • State Emergency Management Public Assistance Program – Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • IMALERT – The Iowa Museums Archives Libraries Emergency Response Team (IMALERT) offers 24 hour assistance for cultural institutions in the state experiencing an emergency or disaster. The IMALERT Hotline can connect staff with the information and expertise needed to respond to and recover from any level of incident from a leaking pipe to a major flood.
  • National Heritage Responders – respond to the needs of cultural institutions and the public during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors, and the public.
  • FEMA Regional Office –  Region 7 office, located in Kansas City, MO, covers Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska
  • NEDCC – 24/7 Collections Emergency Hotline: 1-855-245-8303 provide telephone advice to institutions and individuals handling collection-related disasters. Information provided includes advice on drying wet collections and dealing with damage from fire, pests, and mold. This service does not include on-site assistance.

Recommendations for Immediate Action to Preserve Materials

  • Establish priorities – consider historical value, monetary value, uniqueness, ability to replace/other formats
  • Rank collections for evacuation – records needed to continue operating, irreplaceable materials
  • Moving materials into an area where you can address issues
  • Treating wet collections
  • What to do with moldy or contaminated collections
  • Drying a wet space 

Examples of Damage in our collections

Fire/Smoke damage from Fairmount Crematorium collection  

Fourth of July weekend, 2019 water damage from drinking fountain leak.

New Years holiday weekend, 2023 water damage from HVAC/humidification system

We hope this helps when you are preparing your own disaster plan. Happy Preservation Week!

(posted by Cristina)

This entry was posted in Local History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *