Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Waves of Water: Tsunami and Flash Flood

According to FEMA, floods are the most common natural disaster. I couldn't find the statistic again, but I think it is plausible. The Tsunami in the Indian Ocean this week and the flash floods in Los Angeles today certainly have flooding on my mind.

As the climate changes, we can expect more flooding on low-lying areas. As a librarian, water is a library's worst enemy. The computer systems are as vulnerable as the books to moisture. Even humidity can destroy a collection as books mold and microfilms fade. Floods can be external, or they can be the result of a water pipe breach. A fire will also cause the fire department

The best book I've read of preparing for disasters in libraries (so far) is An Ounce of Prevention: Integrated Disaster Planning for Archives, Libraries and Record Centers, Second Edition by Johanna Willheiser and Jude Scott (Scarecrow Press 2002).

It was funded by the Canadian Archives Foundation and is quite good. It addresses an entire management philosophy for setting up a disaster planning team and a separate disaster response team. Preparing for a possible disaster at some distant point in the future is a distinctly different task from responding to an emergency right now. The skill of pre-planning is largely strategic and the task of disaster response is largely tactical.

Here's a page of links for library and archive disaster response.

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