Written By: Mary Dudman, Soutron Global Training Services Manager, MLS


Does your library or resource center have a disaster plan? Have you ever considered disaster planning? Disasters can come in all forms: fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, plumbing and air conditioning leaks, bomb threats, and a myriad of other possibilities. It is important for every library to have a basic plan for responding to, working through, and cleaning up after events.


What are some basic considerations you can develop to anticipate an appropriate response?


  1. First, the safety of anyone in the structure is the most important. Do you have a planned procedure for locating, notifying, and evacuating occupants?
  2. Who do you call? Have important telephone numbers prominently posted and ensure that staff are trained on what to do and who to contact.
  3. Do you have an evacuation plan and are evacuation routes prominently posted? Do you have an established meeting point for staff to account for everybody? Is there a list of building occupants, which might serve as a reference point? Does everyone know to avoid elevators? Can elevators be disabled?
  4. What if there is a flood or leak emergency? What do you do?


Do you have a recovery plan, including basic starter supplies?


  1. For water or moisture emergencies, plastic sheeting can be your first line of defense. Do you have a basic kit in place which might include plastic sheeting, rubber gloves, masks, etc.?
  2. Do you have a basic contact or resource available who can offer advice or assistance on recovery from such events?
  3. There are many resources on the web that can offer advice about dealing with moisture and smoke damage and resource protection. When it is safe to do so, you may want to investigate these resources. Better yet, anticipate what might be a more likely occurrence… i.e. are you in a hurricane zone?… are you in an area prone to wildfires?… what is the most likely event which you may foresee?… if you can prepare some resources and responses in advance for these events, you’ll be one step ahead.
  4. The Library of Congress has one resource here. This could help you get started on your plan
  5. The American Library Association has more information here. This is an excellent resource specific to library and resource center preparedness.
Don’t wait until something happens before you start thinking about this. By preparing a plan in advance, you can be one step ahead and disaster ready. Nobody likes to think about these things occurring, but having a plan in advance can smooth the way to recovery. Don’t forget about your “technology” too! Your servers, computing resources, and equipment need a plan too! It is only prudent to get ready just in case the unexpected occurs!