Every year there are instances of damage to important government records as a result of various disasters. There are basic precautions to take that will lessen the damage to records in the event of a disaster:
-Keep records storage areas clean and orderly;
-Do not store records in a leaky basement or attic;
-Store records at least six inches above the floor;
-Build firewalls around storage areas;
-Use non-combustible materials in vault construction;
-Install smoke and water detectors that are connected to a central alarm system;
-Inspect wiring regularly;
-Keep fire extinguisher in records storage area;
-Prohibit smoking in storage areas; and
-Store vital records in a separate building.
A critical part of any records management program is a written disaster recovery plan. This plan should include, but not be limited to:
-List of Vital records, their locations and priorities for recovery;
-Inventory of information technology equipment and software;
-Contact information for staff;
-List of supplies and their locations;
-Contact information for vendors;
-Location of critical equipment/building information such as fire extinguishers and utility controls; and
-Techniques for recovering damaged records.
Disaster Preparedness and Response Resources:
Northeast Document Conservation Center’s dPlan
. This is an online tool that guides you through the steps of creating a disaster prevention and recovery plan.
The Council of State Archivists Pocket Response Plan
. This plan is designed to fit in a wallet and includes essential information necessary when responding to a disaster, such as a checklist of actions to take and the phone numbers of staff and vendors.
The Council of State Archivists IPER (Intergovernmental Preparedness for Essential Records) Project
. This project, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provided training on two courses: Essential Records and Records Emergency Planning and Response. The Essential Records course provided training on identifying and protecting an agency’s essential records. The Records Emergency Planning and Response course taught how to prepare a Records Emergency Action Plan (REAP) and respond during an emergency.
Connecting to Collections Preservation Boot Camp
. This two day event held in 2013 was funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant awarded to the State Library of Ohio. It included sessions on disaster planning and other preservation topics.
Society of American Archivists Preparedness and Response Resources
. The Society of American Archivists (SAA) has compiled a list of disaster planning and response resources, including examples of disaster plans.