Archival Adventures in Small Repositories

MayDay 2013: Disaster Preparedness for Archives

Wednesday, 5/1/13

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) focuses on disaster preparedness every May 1st by promoting "MayDay: Saving Our Archives." 

Last fall, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I put together this handy short list of disaster preparedness resources particularly relevant for small archives. For more information about disaster preparedness and preservation best practices, take a look at SAA's Quick Tips and more comprehensive Annotated Resources. The SAA website has some suggestions for important activities you can perform on MayDay to prepare for the worst. Why not take some time today to review or establish basic emergency procedures, survey your building for risks, or just make sure that all your collections materials are stored in boxes and those boxes are not on the floor?

If you are still unconvinced of the importance of disaster preparedness, perhaps these photographs of disasters will scare you into action:

Nixon Paper Mill, 1902 flood. Photograph from Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society.

"Ice freshet in Delaware River, 2nd month 1893. Fair street below Pa. R. R." Photograph from Historic Fallsington.

Philadelphia fire. Photograph from Fireman's Hall Museum.

Water-damaged archival papers.

Signs like this can help prevent a disaster.

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