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Disaster Response When Campus is Closed

Preservation Week and May Day both happen this week. It is a good time to update your disaster plan or do one other thing to better prepare your organization for disasters. This year disaster recovery includes trying to figure out disaster response when campus is largely vacant, and how you can maintain physical distancing if you need to respond to a collections emergency.

Last week a hot water pipe burst on the third floor of the History Department’s building sending water down to the first floor. Two faculty members reported having wet library books. We sent them information on caring for their personal collections, then went to campus to retrieve a handful of books from the building. We also met one faculty who drove his library books over to the library.

Our Response to a Small Collections Disaster

There are several apps that are useful in these situations. I used one to scan and send a list of barcodes to Circulation for the books that needed to be checked back in.

bar code scanning app screen shot
Bar codes ready for email.

I then set up the damp books in the fume hood to dry.

books drying in fume hood
Books drying in fume hood.

I prepared two wet books for freezing by wrapping them with butcher paper,  sandwiching them between buffered corrugated boards, and securing them with cotton tying tape. Writing the barcode and date on the package will help us easily identify them in the freezer.

Books prepped for the freezer
Ready for the freezer.
A Silver Lining

A silver lining in all of this is we discovered that our freezer is acting up again. Readers might recall  that we had a problem with the drain in this freezer almost a year ago. We are waiting for the parts to come in so a repair technician can be scheduled.

Freezer malfunction
The Iceman Floweth, again.
After the Initial Response

The books in the fume hood dried within a couple days. I went back to campus and put them into presses to flatten. We will evaluate these for repair or replacement once we are back on campus.

Books in the press
A good pressing should get these fairly flat.

This disaster was very small but it did raise questions about large numbers of library books housed in faculty offices, and what that means in terms of recovery efforts.

 

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