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Disaster response and salvage training

Preservation Advisory Centre/ RLUK half-day courses were held at the British Library Centre for Conservation on 16 January 2012.

This intensive half-day course focuses on preparing for disaster response and salvage. The course uses experience of responding to real incidents to demonstrate how planning can minimise the impact of emergencies in libraries and archives as well as outlining the practical steps to take when responding to situations. With reference to case studies, the course includes strategies for dealing with damage, an emergency decision-making exercise and a hands-on salvage exercise.


Why did you attend this training day?

  • A flood nine months ago showed our disaster plan to be an impenetrable document and not fit for purpose.
  • To be able to deal with any disaster more effectively. To update our disaster plan. To update our disaster kit.
  • Gain a practical overview of the skills needed to conserve disaster stricken items.
  • To understand importance of disaster planning and managing salvage.
  • To equip myself and colleagues in practical way plus to risk assess in more informed way.

What did you learn?

  • Lots! Excellent coverage of practicalities - very 'down to earth' approach is appreciating need for flexibility and prioritisation, and 'human'/secondary/logistic elements beyond lists and procedures.
  • The speed with which you have to react and the short space of time before expensive damage is caused. Exercise proved how long it can take to assess and decide what to do with damaged stock.
  • How important a plan is - what things should go into plan and how to deal with different formats - very useful.
  • Ideas for updating disaster plan and kit. To contain the 'disaster' before attempting to deal with what you see immediately.
  • Time is of the essence. Be prepared and provide training.

What will you do differently as a result of attending this training day?

  • Look at the plan again - already. Doesn't really assume that it might be read by someone who doesn't know what they're doing at the moment.
  • If faced with a small incident, deal with non-damaged items first. Look at disaster plan again.
  • Revisit current Emergency Plan (lots of lists and telephone numbers…!) with view to making it more 'holistic' and able to steer decision making processes.
  • Update disaster plan and ensure that all relevant personnel are aware and familiar with plan.
  • Have a clear, well communicated plan and tailored disaster kit and to store multiple copies of the plan.


09.45/13.30 Registration
10.00/13.45 Introduction to disaster response in libraries and archives
10.30/14.15 Immediate response to small incidents: effective decision-making
11.00/14.45 Handling and salvage techniques for library and archive collections
11.45/15.30 Break
12.00/15.45 Salvage equipment and disaster kits Salvage exercise
13.00/16.45 End