Protecting our records is one of our fundamental responsibilities as archivists and records managers. May 1—this year and every year— is a time when cultural heritage professionals do something that can have a significant impact a repository’s ability to respond when an emergency occurs.
Below are important, but simple steps you can do to prepare for when an emergency occurs!
- Make Sure All Records Are in Boxes
Boxes do more than serve as a storage container, they provide protection. If you have a fire, your collections are at risk from smoke damage. Boxes also protect materials from water due to sprinklers, broken pipes, or leaks.
- Make Sure Boxes Are Off the Floor
Make sure nothing is on the floor if water comes in your storage area. If shelf space is limited, use pallets to get boxes up off the floor.
- Create or Update Your Contact Lists
One of the most important elements of disaster response is knowing how to contact critical people—emergency responders, staff, and vendors. The Pocket Response Plan or PReP from the Council of State Archivists is a great tool that all staff should carry with them. The PReP is intended to be customized for each institution. It is printed on both sides of a legal-size sheet of paper, then trimmed and folded to credit card size and stored in an envelope that fits easily into a wallet.
Remember the PReP is meant to complement, not to replace, an agency’s disaster plan. It ensures that staff have the most essential information with them always. The PReP templates are available free of charge from the Council of State Archivists’ website.