Surviving Sandy: Recovering Collections after a Natural Disaster

Surviving Sandy: Recovering Collections after a Natural Disaster

Sushan Chin
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8624-3.ch016
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This chapter offers a case study on how the New York University medical archives, located in New York City, recovered from Superstorm Sandy and resumed operations. The importance of having the right tools, such as a disaster plan and business continuity plans, are emphasized. With the right tools, institutions can recover from disasters of most magnitudes. Experiences shared in this chapter include working with a disaster recovery company, implementing digital technology to provide access to library and archival collections, and utilizing social media and other Web 2.0 technology to improve communications between staff and patrons. These experiences will assist archivists, curators, and special collections managers in preparing for and recovering from a major disaster.
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Increasingly, libraries and archives are experiencing greater catastrophic emergencies as a result of natural disasters. According to hurricane experts, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico have begun to spin off more frequent and destructive hurricanes than in previous decades, with the number rising in 1995, and increasing every year thereafter (New York City Office of Emergency Management, 2014). In 2012, Superstorm Sandy produced record high storm surges, and brought gale force winds up to eighty-five miles per hour (Sharp, 2012). The storm caused power outages in fifteen states, and cut electricity to more than eight million homes for weeks. The storm also flooded essential transportation tunnels and completely halted public transportation in multiple states for days. It also damaged oil refineries, and caused widespread gas shortages in New York and New Jersey. The fuel shortages resulted in gas rationing and long lines of cars waiting for gas unseen since the 1970s (Hu, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Electronic Resources: Online information resources including abstracts, full-text documents, electronic books, and digital collections of data and data sets.

Business Continuity Plan: Document for describing recovery priorities, the tasks involved, the people responsible for those tasks, and any system dependencies.

Business Impact and Risk Analysis: A process which identifies the impacts on business functions and systems resulting from business disruptions.

MSB: Medical Science Building. MSB is the oldest of several buildings within the NYU Langone Medical Center. MSB houses classrooms, faculty offices, medical research laboratories, and the Health Sciences Library and archive.

Conservation: The process of preserving materials through methods that would prevent loss or damage.

NYULMC: New York University Langone Medical Center.

Archive: A collection of materials, objects and papers that document the history of an institution.

Disaster Recovery: The process of rescuing and restoring technical systems and/or print library and archival collections from a disaster.

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