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Preparing your collection for a disaster could greatly increase what survives.   Northeast Document Conservation Center recommends to first prepare an emergency preparedness plan.  This will allow your staff to respond quickly before, during and after a disaster with explict instructions that will provide the best practices for preparing and salvaging your collections.  For assistance in preparing a disaster plan please refer to our Disaster Plan section.

Protecting Your Collection

The following list was complied from Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Preservation Leaflet 3.1 Protection from Loss: Water and Fire Damage, Biological Agents, Thefy and Vandalism by Sherelyn Ogden

  • Inspect roof coverings and flashing regularly
  • Clean gutters and drains frequently
  • Store materials away from pipes that could be a source of water
  • Store materials at least 4 inches off the floor
  • Avoid storing collections in basements or other areas that may flood
    • Install water-sensing alarms if collections are stored in these areas
  • Fire supression systems are a must as well as detection and alarm systems
  • Maintaining proper levels of temperature and relative humidity are important aspects of lowering your mold risk
  • Good air circulation and clean, clutter free areas will also reduce your mold risk
  • Once mold appears affected materials should be isolated from the collection
  • Personal safety equipment should always be used
  • Keep areas clean as pests and rodents are attracted to clutter, dust and food remains
  • Trim grass and plants back at least 18 inches from the building housing collections
  • Inspect new arrivals and returning collections for pests or insects
  • Once an infestation is discovered take immediate action


Your collection has gotten wet now what do you do? If your collection has been affected by water or moisture please refer to our Wet Recovery page.

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One Response to Preparing Your Collection for a Disaster

  1. Karen DeCrane says:

    I ran across this article and resource list while searching for disaster guidelines that would cover my own family’s historic written records, photos and home movies. Even if our collections are not large by institutional standards, they are still important to us and this article and resource list was most helpful.

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