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Disaster Planning and Recovery: Resources for Libraries



Librarians and Libraries Respond to Disasters: Bibliography on Library Roles in Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

Bibliography of over 200 resources 


All of the following resources are available in print in the E. L. Quarantelli Resource Collection at the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center. The ELQ Resource Collection is not a circulating collection, however it is open to library staff who wish to schedule a visit to use material on site. To schedule a visit, please call the Resource Collection Coordinator at 302-831-8791.

Disaster Planning Resources for Libraries

Field Guide to Emergency Response (Washington, DC: Heritage Preservation, 2006).     

Includes instructional DVD


  •   Introduction
  •   Section I: What to Do First
  •   Section II: The Response Team
  •   Section III: Top Ten Problems to Expect
  •   Section IV: Resources

Library Disaster Plan (California Preservation Program, 2006).

Available online at


  • Disaster Response Plan
  • Immediate Emergency Response
  • In-House Emergency Team
  • Facilities: Locations of Emergency Systems
  • Emergency Services
  • Responsibilities for Collections Disaster Response & Recovery
  • Collection Salvage Priorities
  • Collection Salvage Supplies
  • Staff Emergency Procedures
  • Emergency Planning & Recovery Documents
  • Salvage of Water Damaged Materials
  • Salvage Glossary
  • Emergency History
  • Locations Where This Plan is on File

NFPA® 909 Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties - Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship (Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2010).


  • Administration
  • Referenced Publications
  • Definitions
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Protection Plan
  • Protection Plan - Emergency Operations
  • Protection Plan - Fire Safety Management
  • Protection Plan - Security
  • New Construction, Addition, Alteration, and Renovation Projects
  • Management Operational Systems
  • Fire Prevention
  • Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Protection Systems
  • Special Events
  • Museums, Libraries, and Their Collections
  • Places of Worship

Buchanan, Sally A. Disaster Planning, Preparedness and Recovery for Libraries and Archives: A Ramp Study with Guidelines. (Paris: General Information Programme and UNISIST, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1988).


  • Part I: Disaster Preparedness
    • Planning
    • Prevention
    • Protection
  •   Part II: Disaster Recovery
    • Planning for Response and Recovery
    • Disaster Recovery - Water
    •  Disaster Recovery - Fire
    • Disaster Recovery - Other
  •   Conclusion  

Carmicheal, David W. Implementing the Incident Command System at the Institutional Level: A Handbook for Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Other Cultural Institutions  ([Washington, DC]: Heritage Preservation, 2010).


  •   What is the Incident Command System?
  •   How to Use this Manual
  •   Incident and Response
  •   The Role of the Command Structure
  •   First Steps: Assessing and Prioritizing
  •   Organizing the Response: Command Staff
  •   Organizing the Response: General Staff
  •   Organizing the Response: Facilities
  •   Organizing the Response: Response Workers
  •   Post-incident Activities
  •   Putting It All Together: Applying the Steps in the Process

Abstract: Every cultural repository needs two management structures: the day-to-day, business-as-usual hierarchy, and a “supercharged” management structure that takes over temporarily during a crisis or whenever events threaten to overwhelm normal business routines. Emergency responders have used just such a supercharged structure for years: the Incident Command System (ICS).
Since its development in the early 1970s the ICS has been used to tackle a vast array of incidents, including fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The system has demonstrated that it can scale up to handle disasters that mushroom over large areas and even multiple states. But the ICS was designed to scale down as well as up. Few practitioners have addressed the question of how to use the ICS to manage an emergency within a single institution--until now.
Implementing the Incident Command System at the Institutional Level explains how libraries, archives, and museums can adopt the ICS as a temporary management structure whenever “business as usual” won’t get the job done. Whether you are preparing for fires and floods – or planning a major public even the Incident Command System is a proven management tool that safeguards lives, property, and priceless collections. Learn how to put it to use in your repository!

Dadson, Emma. Emergency Planning and Response for Libraries, Archives and Museums (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012).


  • Introduction
  • Case Studies
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Incident Control
  • Planning the Recovery Operation
  • Collections Salvage
  • Supplementary Content
  • Dealing with the Building
  • Business Continuity
  • Ensuring the Plan's Efficacy
  • Conclusion

Abstract: Whether working with a special collection in a local archive or museum, in a large national library or managing records for a healthcare agency, an emergency plan is critical to your organization’s future.
Dadson draws on a decade of experience and award-winning training in this essential practical toolkit, enabling you to respond quickly and effectively to flood, fire and other emergencies. Expert advice is interwoven with cross-sectoral and international case studies drawn from high profile and smaller and medium-sized organizations offering a breadth of relevant experience and advice. Regardless of your time or cost constraints this text will outline exactly how to minimize risk, tackle real emergencies and ensure business continuity.
Each chapter guides you through the essentials including:

  • an introduction to emergency planning in the information and heritage sectors
  • getting started on your plan
  • alarm raising and incident containment
  • the recovery operation
  • salvaging collections
  • critical documents such as priority lists, floorplans and disaster kits
  • business continuity and IT recovery
  • ensuring the plan’s efficacy
  • risk management and disaster prevention.

This is the ultimate resource for all those who work with collections in libraries, archives, museums and historic houses internationally, whether large or small. It’s also an invaluable tool for records managers in companies, local authorities and healthcare agencies. Lastly it offers a concise introduction to emergency planning and response for international library and information students. 

Finley, Mary M. “Disaster Planning for Libraries: Lessons from California State University, Northridge,” in Proceedings of the 8th Annual Federal Depository Library Conference, 1999.

Available online at
This paper discusses the impact of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake on the Delmar T. Oviatt Library at California State University, Northridge, and the lessons learned from the experience. 

Kahn, Miriam B. Disaster Response and Planning for Libraries (Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2012).


  • Introduction
  • Response
  • Recovering Collections and Restoring Operations
  • Prevention
  • Planning
  • Response and Recovery Procedures
  • Appendix A: Checklists and Forms
  • Appendix B: Associations, Organizations, and Companies

Abstract: Fire, water, mold, construction problems, power-outages—mishaps like these can not only bring library services to a grinding halt, but can also destroy collections and even endanger employees. Preparing for the unexpected is the foundation of a library’s best response. Expert Kahn comes to the rescue with this timely update of the best step-by-step, how-to guide for preparing and responding to all types of library disasters.

This completely revised third edition offers:

  • Quick and efficient guidance for creating protocols and response plans tailored to your own institution
  • Pointers for handling all kinds of library materials when damaged
  • The latest information on preparing for technology recovery
  • Up-to-date information on prevention equipment and materials
  • Dozens of reproducible checklists and forms, and a comprehensive list of resources

Kahn’s guide gives libraries the tools they need to face any emergency, no matter the size or scope.

Griffith, J. W. “After the Disaster: Restoring Library Service,” in Wilson Library Bulletin, 58:4, 1983:258-265.

Halsted, Deborah D., Shari Clifton, and Daniel T. Wilson, Library as Safe Haven: Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery: A How-To-Do-It Manual For Librarians (Chicago: Neal-Schuman, 2014).


  • Risk Assessment and Continuity of Operations Plans
  • Responding to a Threat
  • From Self-reliance to Asking for Help
  • A One-page Service Continuity Plan
  • Tapping the Potential of Mobile Technologies and Social Media for Preparedness and Response
  • Personal Preparedness and Possible Impact on Library Services
  • Leveraging the Library
  • Two Model Scenarios for Cooperative Engagement

Abstract: Libraries have always played a special role in times of disaster by continuing to provide crucial information and services. The Stafford Act of 2011, a federal government directive, designates libraries as among the temporary facilities delivering essential services, making a Continuity of Operations Plan imperative for libraries. Peppered with informative first-person narratives from librarians recounting emergency situations, Halsted, Clifton, and Wilson cover such topics as:

  • An eight-step approach to developing a risk assessment plan
  • How to draft a one-page service continuity plan
  • Information on how to use mobile devices and social media effectively in times of disaster
  • Sample disaster plans, along with model exercises, manuals and customizable communications

Published in cooperation with the Medical Library Association (MLA), this nuts-and-bolts resource will enable libraries of all kinds to do their best while planning for the worst.

Howard, Jennifer. “What Katrina Can Teach Libraries about Sandy and Other Disasters”. 2012 November 14.

Chronicle of Higher Education, Wired Campus. ‚Äč

Kautzman, Amy, “Active Shooter in the Library: How to Plan for, Prevent, and Survive the Worst,” in Library Leadership & Management, 25:1, 2011.
Available online at

Abstract: You are in your office puzzling over an especially sticky grant proposal when you hear quiet pops in the distance. Thinking that teenagers are setting off firecrackers, you turn back to your personnel listing and salary descriptions only to become aware that people are shouting and screaming outside of your office. What do you do?
April 2010 was the eleventh anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, an unthinkable event that appeared to come out of nowhere. In September 2010, the University of Texas had an active shooter incident in the Perry Castañeda Library. We don't like to imagine such incidents happening with any regularity, and yet they continue; Virginia Tech, Hampton, and Northern Illinois University, to list a few of the epidemic attacks. Fortunately, most of the shootings have not directly involved campus or public libraries, but library leaders should still be aware of and prepare for such an eventuality. According to the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 67.1% of all homicides the weapon of choice was a firearm. This means that out of the 13,635 Americans murdered with a weapon in 2009, 9,146 were shot with a firearm of some type. This article is a primer on how best to protect your library, yourself, and the people around you if you find yourself caught up in an active shooter event. 

Morris, John. The Library Disaster Preparedness Handbook. Chicago: American Library Association, 1986.


  • Basic Building Security
  • Problem Patrons
  • Theft and Mutilation of Books and Materials
  • Fire Protection
  • Water Damage: Protection and Recovery
  • Planning and Design for Safety and Security
  • Preservation and Conservation
  • Insurance and Risk Management

Preservation Committee, St. Louis Regional Library Network. St. Louis Area Resources for Library Conservation and Disaster Preparedness: A Bibliography and Checklist. St. Louis, MO: Preservation Committee, St. Louis Regional Library Network, 1982.


  • Introduction
  • Instructions
  • Bibliography on Conservation and Preservation
    •  Core List
    •  Conservation Administration
    •  Environmental Protection
    •  Binding and Book Repair
    •  Paper - Care and Repair
    •  Plastic-based Media
    •  Maps
    •  Photographs
    •  Disaster: Preparedness and Salvage
    •  Serials
  • Disaster Preparedness Plan
  • St. Louis Suppliers of Conservation Services & Products
  • Local Resource People with Expertise in Conservation
  • Participating Library Holding Symbols

Robertson, Guy. “People, Paper, Data: Disaster Planning for Libraries,” in Disaster Recovery, 10:1, 1997:38-41.

Thenell, Jan. The Library's Crisis Communications Planner: A PR Guide for Handling Every Emergency. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2004.         




All of the following resources are available in print in the E. L. Quarantelli Resource Collection at the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center. The ELQ Resource Collection is not a circulating collection, however it is open to library staff who wish to schedule a visit to use material on site. To schedule a visit, please call the Resource Collection Coordinator at 302-831-8791. 

Resources Highlighting the Roles of Libraries in Response and Recovery

“Libraries to the Rescue” (video from Free for All: Inside the Public Library, Free4All Films)

[Web Page]. 2013 Oct 30; Accessed 2017 Jan. 26. Available at: .

This short film is a tribute to all librarians who serve their communities during crises. It depicts how the people of Queens, New York, turned to their public libraries in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), New England Region (NER) Emergency Preparedness & Response Summit, 2013.
This document provides a schedule of the Summit held at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, November 22, 2013 along with a summary of all sessions.

Report of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Summit: Normalcy and Intelligence: A Forum To Discuss Ways Libraries and Information Professionals Can Strengthen a Community's Emergency Planning Strategy. 2014 May 6.

This document is the result of a forum held at the Central Library of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library System, Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • List of panelists and moderator
  • Discussion of a scenario-based event (transcript)

Shaken But Not Stirred: Libraries Supporting Earthquake Recovery. 2011 Nov 24.

This document is a printed copy of a PowerPoint presentation made at Disaster Management for Libraries, State Library, NSW, Sydney

Online video available at

“The Village Speaks: Massachusetts: Libraries to Serve as Disaster Recovery Centers” [Web Page]. 2008.

Available at:

Bauman, Marian R. and Randy Bishop. “Our Libraries Were Ports in the Storm.” New Jersey Municipalities. 2013 Oct: 16-17.

Brobst, John L., Lauren H. Mandel, and Charles R. McClure. “Public Libraries and Crisis Management: Roles of Public Libraries in Hurricane / Disaster Preparedness and Response,” in Crisis Information Management: Communication and Technologies edited by Christine Hagar (Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing, 2012), pp. 155-173.

Abstract: The hurricane damage that the United States Gulf Coast has sustained over the past decade was a catalyst for this study of the service roles public libraries provide in hurricane/disaster preparedness and response.  Libraries have taken major steps to better meet community needs arising from these emergency situations. This chapter identifies new public library service roles, and discuses successful technology solutions and communications programs that public libraries can employ to assist local communities prepare for, and recover from, hurricanes and other disasters.

Comito, Lauren and Cynthia Czesak. “Resolution on Library Service to the Community in a Natural Disaster.” 2013 June 24.

Notes: File contains printed copies of related emails as well as a complete copy of the resolution.
Abstract: After Hurricanes Sandy and Irene in the Northeast, many libraries, librarians and staff stepped up not only to help their libraries recover, but also to help their communities and neighbors. This resolution was written to stand as an acknowledgement of those efforts.  A similar resolution was passed in mid-June, 2013 by the New York Library Association Council in support of the resolution presented in this document.

Gray, Jody and John Amundsen, “Libraries Respond to Recent Crises: Local Libraries Help Communities Cope” [Web Page] 2016 July 11.

Available at:

Jaeger, Paul T., Lesley A. Langa, Charles R. McClure, and John Carlo Bertot. “The 2004 and 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes: Evolving Roles and Lessons Learned for Public Libraries in Disaster Preparedness and Community Services,” in Public Library Quarterly, 25:3/4, 2006:199-214.

Abstract: In the aftermath of the 2004 and 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, public libraries played many important roles in their communities, though ensuring access to vital information may have been the most critical service.  This article explores the participation of public libraries in the recovery of their communities, the implications of this involvement for the place of public libraries in society, and lessons learned and recommendations for public library disaster planning.  As this article demonstrates, public libraries successfully provided a range of disaster preparedness and recovery services that were not provided and could not have been provided by other government agencies.

Kimmelman, Michael. Next Time, Libraries Could Be Our Shelters from the Storm [Web Page]. 2013 Oct 2; Accessed 2013 Oct 21.

Available at:

Love, Cynthia B.; Stacey J. Arnesen, and Steven J. Phillips. “Ebola Outbreak Response: The Role of Information Resources and the National Library of Medicine,” in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 9:1, 2015: 82-85.

Abstract: The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) offers Internet-based, no-cost resources useful for responding to the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak. Resources for health professionals, planners, responders, and researchers include PubMed, Disaster Lit, the Web page “Ebola Outbreak 2014: Information Resources,” and the Virus Variation database of sequences for Ebolavirus. In cooperation with participating publishers, NLM offers free access to full-text articles from over 650 biomedical journals and 4000 online reference books through the Emergency Access Initiative. At the start of a prolonged disaster event or disease outbreak, the documents and information of most immediate use may not be in the peer-reviewed biomedical journal literature. To maintain current awareness may require using any of the following: news outlets; social media; preliminary online data, maps, and situation reports; and documents published by nongovernmental organizations, international associations, and government agencies. Similar to the pattern of interest shown in the news and social media, use of NLM Ebola-related resources is also increasing since the start of the outbreak was first reported in March 2014.

Malizia, Michelle; Rebecca Hamilton; Deborah Littrell; Karen Vargas, and Cynthia Olney. “Connecting Public Libraries with Community Emergency Responders,” in Public Libraries, 51:3, 2012 May-2012 Jun 30: 32-37.

Miller, Rebecca. “Bringing 21 Libraries Back To the Gulf Coast: Tales of Resilience, Lessons Learned,” in Library Journal, 2011 Aug 16.

Available online at

Abstract: Article describes the process involved in reconstruction of twenty one libraries along the Gulf Coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

O'Neill, Erin. “5 Jersey Shore Libraries Wait for Next Chapter after Hurricane Sandy” [Web Page]. 2013 Feb 19; Accessed 2013 Mar 28.

Available at:

Peet, Lisa, Associate Editor. Dallas Public Library "Dedicated to Serving with Compassion" after Shooting [Web Page]. 2016 Jul 8; Accessed 2016 Aug 3.

Available at:

Rattan, Pardeep. “Role of Library and Information Centres in Disaster Management,” in Library Philosophy and Practice. 2013 Feb 27(Paper 886).

Available online at

Abstract: The present paper highlights the importance of library and information centres in managing a disaster or any emergency. The main thrust of the paper is to explore the possible roles that the library professionals may assume in case of disasters besides their regular or routine jobs. The concepts of disaster management, types of manmade and natural disasters have also been discussed in detail. The paper discusses library professionals’ role in managing the emergencies for the local community in particular and for the library and information centres in general. Various components of information and communication technology helpful in the reduction of damage by natural disaster have also been discussed. It also briefly mentions the initiatives taken by UNESCO in educating and spreading awareness among people regarding reduction in the impact and affects of any potential disasters or any emergencies. The future vision from the librarian’s point of view in making a disaster reduction plan and making society aware of disasters is also suggested at the end of the paper. 

Rose, Joel. “For Disaster Preparedness: Pack a Library Card?” [Web Page]. 2013 Aug 12; Accessed 2013 Aug 22.

Available at:

Abstract: In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, libraries in New York helped storm victims find documents, fill out forms, connect to the Internet and plan how to rebuild. There's a growing awareness of the important role libraries can play in disaster relief.

Scott, John C. and Amy Sebring, Founder; Moderator. “The Role of Libraries and Librarians in Disaster Risk Reduction and Response” [Web Page]. 2011 Jul 13; Accessed 2011 Aug 9.

Available at:

Veil, Shari and Bradley Wade Bishop. “Community Resilience and Public Libraries: Post Crisis Information and Connectivity” [Web Page]. [2012]; Accessed 2013 Nov 1.

Available at

Veil, Shari R. and Bradley Wade Bishop. “Opportunities and Challenges for Public Libraries to Enhance Community Resilience,” in Risk Analysis, 34:4, 2014:721-734.

Available online at

Abstract: This study bridges a gap between public library and emergency management policy versus practice by examining the role of public libraries in the community resource network for disaster recovery. Specifically, this study identifies the opportunities and challenges for public libraries to fulfill their role as a FEMA-designated essential community organization and enhance community resilience. The results indicate there are several opportunities for libraries to enhance community resilience by offering technology resources and assistance; providing office, meeting, and community living room space; serving as the last redundant communication channel and a repository for community information and disaster narratives; and adapting or expanding services already offered to meet the changing needs of the community. However, libraries also face challenges in enhancing community resilience, including the temptation to overcommit library capacity and staff capability beyond the library mission and a lack of long-term disaster plans and collaboration with emergency managers and government officials. Implications for library and emergency management practice and crisis research are discussed.

Young, Pat. Objects of Value: Addressing Emergency and Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery Issues in Collections. 2009.

Available online at

Abstract: This paper explores the social value in addressing emergency and disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery as they relate to collections. The concept of cultural heritage collections is explored in this context along with informational and resource collections typically found in library settings. A discussion of the past and present climate of attention to emergency and disaster related issues in collections is presented along with two case studies of organizations within Delaware that endeavor to address these issues.