You never want to hear that international distress signal. But when you do, you want to have a plan already in place and have experience putting the plan into action.
This morning, our Archives and Library staff took part in the MAYDAY initiative begun by the Society of American Archivists and Heritage Preservation and held a training day that simulated the steps of salvaging wet materials.
Our conservation department mimicked a water disaster using – and this is the point our Archives and Library VP really wants to stress – FAKE collections materials. Our collections are mostly paper-based, so that is what this mayday practice was all about – printed photos, film and slide negatives, books, etc. Archives and Collections staff got a chance to practice handling the wet, fragile materials and begin the recovery process.
Our conservators, historians, archivists and librarians have long had a comprehensive disaster plan with first response teams and well-stocked disaster supply kits that anyone can access at each end of collections storage spaces. “Our disaster plan covers natural and manmade disaster scenarios. Likely the greatest risk to our collections would be from a water leak due to severe weather or mechanical failure or water from our sprinkler system in case of a fire,” says Kathy Lechuga, book conservator.
We really hope we never have to use our disaster plan, especially on a large scale, but we want you to know that we take protecting the materials in our care seriously.