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Disaster Planning and Recovery for Libraries: Beyond Fires and Floods

A comprehensive collection of links to aid you in creating a disaster plan for your library as well as resources for disaster prevention, recovery, training, and outreach.


Microdisasters may be small-scale, or may affect only a small part of library operations, yet it is wise for libraries to preemptively address them. This Safe Harbor plan is available through the Alliance Library System in Illinois, and includes a table of contents, alphabetical list of policies, appendices, index, and bibliography (all in PDF form). The plan, which could be used in conjunction with your library's disaster plan, addresses what to do in the event of numerous problems, including:

  • Angry patron
  • Assault/Violence
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Stalking
  • Homeless
  • Loitering
  • Missing child

Planning for the Unexpected

Unexpected events are just that-- unexpected-- but they can be planned for, and often require an immediate response. What would you do if one of the following happened in your library? Who would be called first? Where do you keep important names and phone numbers? Is everyone on your staff aware of your disaster response plan, and how to access it?

These are events that have actually happened in libraries (list shared by SCRLC's Assistant Director, Nora Hardy):

  • Overflowing toilet
  • Fire set in school library
  • Chemical contamination of all materials due to transformer fire
  • Car drove into front of library building

Active Shooter/Violent Individual

Pest Management

This project is administered by the South Central Regional Library Council with funding from the Institue for Museum and Library Services.