Last week, we covered two important steps to take before you begin putting together your disaster plan: conducting an institutional risk assessment and gathering information and resources on emergency preparedness. We also highlighted two free disaster plan templates: dPlan and the NEDCC Worksheet for Outlining an Emergency Response Plan. An additional template we’d like to highlight is the Library Disaster Plan template from the California Preservation Program (which can be adapted to any type of collecting institution). This week, we’ll use these templates to go over the sections that should be included in a disaster or emergency response plan and we’ll start to actually fill in some information!

Not all disaster plans need to look the same, but all disaster plans should at least include the following core categories of information:

  • basic institutional information and an emergency contact list that includes staff members and first responders
  • a contact list for services needed during an emergency
  • information indicating the chain of command during an emergency (which can include more detailed information on staff responsibilities during an emergency)
  • a list of emergency equipment and supplies available to you during an emergency (for example, where these supplies are located in your building)
  • procedures for responding to a disaster that include evacuation procedures and response to damaged collections
  • salvage priorities and procedures for your collections, and 
  • basic information detailing where copies of your plan are located and when your plan will be routinely updated

Additionally, it’s helpful to include in your plan information regarding the location of your building’s utilities and emergency systems (for example, where your main utility shut-off valves are) if you have access to this information, and information about how you previously responded to disasters if applicable (as an appendix or ‘emergency history’ section, for example).

If your institution has not yet created a disaster plan, take a look at the templates we’ve highlighted and select one that best suits your needs. You can use these as-is or as the basis to design your own plan. Disaster plans can be small and simple or large and full of information, depending on the size and needs of your institution. If no plan exists, start with the minimum information for each section. Schedule out time to periodically build on your disaster plan every few months until a full, comprehensive plan for your institution has been created. Something, anything is better than nothing!

Now that you’ve selected a template and have some structure to your document, let’s complete our first few sections. This week your task is to fill out your institutional information, emergency contact lists, and staff responsibilities. If you already have a disaster plan in place, your task is to review and update this information. The sections you should fill out are:

Emergency contacts (staff)

  • All staff emergency contact information and/or staff members to be called in case of an emergency
  • Chain of command information and staff responsibilities during an emergency, such as who is your in-house emergency response team and what is their contact information

Congratulations! You’ve got the beginnings of a disaster plan in place! Next week we’ll go over disaster prevention, collaborating with local emergency managers, what your current building systems and procedures are, preventative maintenance, and we’ll introduce collections-related risks.