Library Disaster Prepared Handbook

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According to The Library Disaster Preparedness Handbook, “the most common calamities for libraries are surely water incidences” (Morris, 1986). Water damage can occur as a result of a leaks, burst pipes, and natural disasters. Of these causes, “ natural disasters of great violence are the most damaging: these include flood, hurricanes and tornadoes (Morris).” Because water damage is such a threat to a library and its collection, it is imperative libraries have disaster preparedness procedures in place for preventing or minimizing flooding and water disaster damages. The Edgecombe County School district in North Carolina learned the hard way just how important disaster preparedness planning is and just how damaging water can be when Hurricane Floyd flooded two of their schools’ libraries. Their experiences can be used as an example, and future school library programs and media specialists, like myself, can use their insights to better plan for disasters in the future.

On Wednesday, September 15 1999, Hurricane Floyd made landfall in Edgecombe County as a Category 2 storm. Because water levels were already high from Hurricane Dennis hitting the areas two weeks before, the torrential rains that accompanied Hurricane Floyd caused rivers and creeks to overflow their banks. The Edgecombe Country School District was hit hard by this flooding. “When the water ended its inexorable climb to unprecedented levels, approximately forty percent of the land area of Edgecombe County was under water” (Egerton, et al., 2000). Two of their fourteen schools were totally flooded to the extent that nothing in them was salvageable. The two schools flooded were Pattillo A+ Elementary School and Princeville Montessori School. Pattillo ...

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...ican Association of School Librarians. Another great resource for public school libraries is the Beyond Words program started by Dollar General which helps replace books lost in disasters through grant assistance.

It is very important that a school library have a plan in place in the event of a disaster, and have plans for all types of disasters, like floods, fire, and bombs. By planning in advance, staff will know what is expected of them during and after a disaster. It will also help keep everyone on the same page, as everything descends into chaos and uncertainty. In a school setting it is also imperative that the administration be aware of the disaster plan as well. Including the administration in the planning process will reduce miscommunication in the event of a disaster and will ensure that everyone is on the same page during each stage of cleanup.

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