Prepared for Anything and Everything: Libraries, Archives, and Unexpected Small Scale Disasters

Prepared for Anything and Everything: Libraries, Archives, and Unexpected Small Scale Disasters

Dana Ray Chandler (Tuskegee University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8624-3.ch011
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There are ample resources to help with large scale disasters in libraries and archives, but what about those small, unknown events that happen rapidly and cause as much damage and destruction as larger disasters? This chapter will examine several seemingly small-scale disasters that, if left alone, will become big problems. Solutions to these may sometimes be less obvious than with large-scale issues. This chapter will also provide useful techniques and procedures that will aid both libraries and archives to be prepared for almost any small-scale disaster.
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Main Focus Of The Chapter

From its inception until 1999, the Tuskegee University archives were originally held within the existing main library. However, due to renovations, it was moved to an existing dormitory where it languished for approximately three years. The archives occupied two floors within the dormitory that were neither environmentally controlled, nor adequately sealed from birds, insects, or rodents. There was limited access to most of the collections since they were boxed and sealed.

Finally, the archives collections were moved to their current location where they remained in moving boxes for approximately two years. Fortunately, the archives were placed in a building that had been renovated in 2003 with special emphasis given to design, environmental controls and security.2 Even though the building had been recently renovated, problems arose that were not anticipated either by the architect or the contractor.

The facility had dodged damage from wind and rain during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. Hurricane Ivan hit the Alabama coast in September of 2004 with 130 mph winds and copious amounts of rain. This storm was followed in July of 2005 by Hurricane Dennis with 120 mph rains and equally large downpours (Hurricane City, 2014). These came and went without adversely affecting the archives. Curiously, there were no large, rain making events during the summer of 2008, yet two different areas within the archives were inundated with water.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mold: A type of fungi (often black or green) that forms on a variety of materials. Specific to mold growth is higher humidity, often showing up on the spines and edges of books and papers. Molds feed on any porous material such as cotton, linen, silk, wool, leather, and paper.

Mildew: A type of fungi (often gray or white) that forms a superficial growth on the outside of books and paper. Often grows on any moldy or damp surface.

Archival Storage Boxes: Boxes specifically designed for use by archives. These boxes should be acid-free, lignin-free archival storage boxes assembled from durable barrier board construction and have a deep lid type.

Natural Disasters: A disaster such as a flood, tornado, hurricane or fire that is not man made.

Underwriter’s Laboratories: A global independent safety science company dedicated to providing solutions for a safe living and working environment for all.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Under the auspices of the Department of Labor, OSHA provides policies and procedures that all companies, both public and private, must adhere for the safety of their employees.

Hurricane Katrina: Category 3 hurricane that hit the United States Gulf Coast in 2005. It is estimated that Katrina caused more than $100 billion in damage.

Disaster Plan: Policies and procedures that are specifically designed to deal with the after effects of a disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, flood or fire.

Disaster Preparedness Kit: A kit consisting of supplies specifically adapted for use in archives to aid in salvage, repair and cleanup.

Library Shelving: A type of wood or metal shelving specifically designed for libraries.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (HHR): Agency specifically for providing essential human services for all Americans. This agency concentrates its efforts for those who are least able to provide for or help themselves.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): A government organization specifically designed to aid the public during a disaster.

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