Creating a Library Disaster Plan: Crucial Measures to Implement

October 29, 2019

Natural disasters, such as floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes, cannot be prevented, but they can be prepared for. The severity of these nature-driven instances can vary, but they can also be minimized through a number of cost-effective awareness tips and planning.

When talking about natural disasters, libraries have a lot to consider when it comes to preserving what’s inside. Books, documents, artifacts, digital assets, and more all need to be protected and moved out of the path of harm if possible. Having a disaster plan in place will help to cut down on loss, both financially and physically in a library.

Here are some things to consider when creating a disaster plan for a public library:


Routine inspections of a library and its surroundings can reveal a number of conditions that elevate disasters, such as electrical fires, or cracks and faults that will only enhance the damage a flood or storm can impart on a building. Basic steps, such as unplugging equipment when not in use, cleaning regularly, and ensuring work areas are free of clutter, can all lend a hand as well.

For staff, it’s important to cut out the possibility of major injury by having a plan in place when a disaster hits. This includes knowing the layout of the building, the location of all fire extinguishers and alarms, fire exits, and alternate escape routes, and evacuation procedures.

Another step to take care of before a natural disaster hits is investing in a comprehensive library insurance plan. Library insurance is there to keep your library protected from the major financial backlog that could happen following a disaster. Water damage, fire damage, flood, humidity, etc.–these can all wreak havoc on books, archives, documents, and more. Library insurance from Regan Agency will provide financial coverage for libraries looking to get back up and running as soon as possible following an unfortunate event.

Discuss Emergency Plan with Administration

A written response plan is a good starting point for keeping staff updated with the same information. To be the most effective, your emergency response plan has to be communicated and tested so that all stakeholders know what to do during a disaster.

Putting an emergency response plan into action should begin with a conversation with the entire staff and administration. This should be an open brainstorming session where feedback is appreciated and asked for.

Disaster Recovery Planning

Despite efforts to keep disasters at bay, they happen. The only thing you can control, to a certain degree, is the effect that a disaster has on your library. The goals are to minimize injury to staff and others while also keeping materials and equipment as protected as possible.

Many disasters result in water damage to library products and mold can develop within two days. By following these steps, libraries can drastically cut down on the financial and product losses of their inventory.

  • Assess the Damage: Following a disaster, it’s important to get a general idea of what you’re up against damage-wise. First, look to see how much damage has occurred and what kind of damages face your building and your inventory. Are the books soaked? They may still be able to be saved. Is the damage to one area or spread out? Can damaged items be replaced?
  • Stabilize the Surroundings: After getting a handle on what you’re up against, it’s crucial to cut down on the effect of water damage or fire damage. Preventing mold from settling in is key to stabilizing the environment. Do this by utilizing portable generators, pumps to remove large quantities of standing water, fans to circulate air, and dehumidifiers to help lower the humidity. Also, remove damaged items and begin to clean the area by scrubbing with soap. Be sure to clean gently and separate damp materials.
  • Salvage Priorities: Library administrators should go over the damaged items and see what can be replaced and at what cost. Would the cost of the item be more or less than restoring it, for instance? How important are these items?
  • Unsalvageable Materials: Any materials soaked, burned, contaminated, or damaged in other ways beyond repair must be removed. For books, it will be important to note the title pages or other available identifying markers to be able to search for availability, replacement or total withdrawal.

About Regan Agency

A family-owned business, Long Island-based Regan Agency has more than 35 years of experience serving the library insurance and risk management needs of Tri-State residents and businesses. We have earned the trust of our clients based on our integrity and commitment to offer individuals and businesses quality library insurance products at competitive prices backed by unparalleled responsive service. Just give one of our professionals a call at 631-669-3434.