Networking for Disaster Response
Date: February 25, 2008
Background and History: The Library of Congress Preservation Directorate and the Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC) hosted an invitational meeting on forging a regional cooperative disaster response network — Safety Net: Networking for Disaster Response. This was a follow-up to initial training on disaster planning and recovery provided to federal librarians over the course of the last two years at the Library of Congress, as part of LC’s “Future Directions in Document Preservation” symposia series.
Goal and Program Description: The goal of the “Safety Net” program is to develop a framework for a network of federal libraries that would be available to respond to a disaster in the greater Washington, DC region. This meeting was key to establishing a working system of support for disaster response and training.
Speakers addressed several aspects of implementing a disaster response network. Alan Aiches of the Federal Emergency Management Agency discussed FEMA, its networks of responders, and how they are activated in the event of a disaster. Blane Dessy, Library Director, US Department of Justice, spoke about recovery from a flood that damaged collections in the main Justice Department building and how its existing disaster and continuity of operations plan (COOP) assisted the library in its recovery efforts. Eric Pourchot of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) described the recently developed AIC network for emergency response training.
Following the presentations, members considered components of participation in the network with a view toward developing a charter of principles to better connect cultural stewards to disaster mitigation needs of collections. Focus groups addressed three topics: how the network might be incorporated into an agency’s existing disaster and COOP plans; what tools are available for responding to a local and regional disaster; and training needed to effectively implement and activate a disaster network.
Outcomes: Participants developed principles for mutual disaster assistance, a plan for next steps in training, and a phone tree of regional program members as key elements of the "Safety Net."
Participants: Invitees included professionals from the following organizations: White House, Dept. of Defense, Dept. of State, National Institute of Health, National Agriculture Library, National Library of Medicine, US Census, US Mint, Army, Navy, Treasury, IRS, NIST, NASA, NOAA, and Senate and House Libraries, etc. Invitees who were unable to attend in person were able to participate via Web conference.
Support: The Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC) provided funding for the program, which was also supported by the International Federation of Library Associations Preservation and Conservation North American Network (IFLA PAC NAN).
Report: Library, FLICC Seek Preservation Disaster Network, reprints an article about the symposium as it appeared in The Gazette, an internal publication of the Library of Congress, March 14, 2008.