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Disaster Planning and Recovery for Libraries: Prevention

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.

Quick Tips for Collection Maintenance

"Maintaining the proper environment is the single greatest preservation step you can take." Michele Hamill, Cornell University Department of Preservation and Collection Maintenance

Disaster prevention begins with proper collection maintenance. What are some things you can do in your library to help insure your collection's continued health, and its optimal recovery should disaster strike?

  1. As much as possible, keep boxes of stored items at least a few inches off the floor, on pallets if necessary.
  2. If possible, keep materials off bottom shelves (in case of flooding) and topmost shelves (in case of leaks).
  3. Do not crowd shelves.
  4. Do not allow items to hang off shelves. That is, make sure shelving is the right size for the materials. Keep items pushed back so that the shelf above will offer protection in case of a leak.
  5. Metal shelving is optimal.
  6. Maintain proper humidity levels. Consider purchasing a tool such as the Preservation Environment Monitor (PEM) from the Image Permanence Institute (IPI).
  7. Visually scan collection periodically, particularly in low-traffic areas, where the presence of slow leaks, mold, or pests could go unnoticed.

Collection Maintenance and Disaster Prevention

Could this small-scale disaster have been prevented?

Image from Friends of Aurora Public Library Book Outlet in Aurora, CO.  (, available through Creative Commons license)

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