Recovery of Harvard Library Collections
Checklist for first response to an emergency
In the event of an emergency that threatens library collections, take the following steps:Step 1 – Make sure staff members are safe.Take appropriate measures to protect the lives and health of all staff members, including your own.Step 2 – Make a rapid assessment of the emergency situation.If possible and safe to do so, quickly assess the source of the danger to the collections and the extent of the damage.Step 3 – Notify, or verify notification of, people and programs that are designated to respond in an emergency.
- If you do not receive a response from Facilities, call the University Operations Center (617) 495-5560.
- Library Administration
- Library’s local Emergency Response Team
Step 4 – Protect the collections from further damage.If possible and safe to do so, take appropriate steps to protect the collections, e.g., cover them with plastic sheeting.Step 5 – Notify LCET (Harvard Library-wide Library Collections Emergency Team).
- LCET Cell Phone (617) 240-2500.
- Alternatively, during business hours, call the Weissman Preservation Center: (617) 495-8596 or Collections Care: (617) 496-2403.
Step 6 – Work with Facilities staff members to stabilize the environment.
- Lower temperature below 65 degrees F
- Lower relative humidity below 35%
- Move air gently through affected areas
Step 7 – Do a comprehensive assessment of damage to the collection(s).Identify the types of materials damaged, and estimate quantities:
- Bound volumes
- Unbound paper
- Photographic prints and negatives
- Videotape, audio tape
- Motion picture film
Identify the nature of the damage, e.g., materials might be:
- Smoke damaged
- Fire damaged
- Contaminated by bacteria or other dangerous substances
Photograph affected areas.Step 8 – Determine if an outside commercial response service is required.Library’s administration, in consultation with LCET (HL-wide Library Collections Emergency Team), determines if the type or amount of collection damage exceeds the Library’s capability to respond.Step 9 – If an outside service is required, arrange for purchase of services.Library’s administration contacts the appropriate offices:
- Financial services
- Insurance office
Step 10 – If an outside service is not required, implement salvage activities.Library’s local Emergency Response Team should, in consultation with LCET (HL-wide Library Collections Emergency Team):
- Gather supplies
- Remove damaged collections to a safe location
- Salvage damaged items
Step 11 – Keep detailed records.Record:
- Areas/ranges affected
- Items affected
- Locations of items being salvaged
- Salvage methods