New Library Directors Handbook

Planning for Disaster

The first part of this chapter looked at long range planning, but we must also plan for disasters. Hopefully the library will never have to use it, but we cannot count on that being the case.

Disaster response and prevention is essential for the continuation of library business. A written disaster plan will help ensure the health and safety of the staff, decrease the amount of time it takes to begin recovery, and increase the recovery rate for materials.

When preparing a disaster plan:

  • Inventory the library and its contents, so you will know what is there.
  • Consider types of disasters most likely to happen, including the possibility that the entire building or collection might be destroyed.
  • Consider what services would be most affected if patrons and staff did not have access to the building and its collections.
  • Determine who has the decision-making authority in the case of a disaster to close the library, contact the insurance company, assign staff to the recovery effort, hire temporary staff if needed and serve as media spokesperson.

It is the director's responsibility to ensure that the staff is knowledgeable about emergency procedures, but trustees should be familiar with them as well. One of the board members might be responsible for having a copy of the disaster plan stored at home in case the library copy is damaged or is inaccessible.