Is Your Cultural Institution Ready for Fall?
By Kristen Kern
It’s the time of year in Oregon when school is starting and the cooler, shorter, rainier days of fall are just ahead. While we’re thinking about locating school supplies and warmer clothes, there’s another equally important task: preparing our institutions for emergencies that can endanger our ability to serve the public.
What can we do with limited time, staff and resources to effectively prepare for the rain storm that causes flooding or high winds that bring down power lines and cut communication? Here are five ideas for getting ready:
- Know your collection — What are the collection pieces that are most valuable, rare, and/or fragile that would be priorities for saving in an emergency? Having a list of your most significant items will allow a faster response when quick decisions must be made about what to do first.
- Know your building – What features make it vulnerable to natural and manmade threats?
- Know your emergency responders – Fire department, police and emergency management personnel will be among the first to arrive on the scene of any major event. If they are familiar with your building and contents they may more quickly and effectively respond to help save your collection.
- Know your response team – Who can help you if you have a flood, for example, and need to move your collection? Staff? Volunteers? Who else can make decisions if you’re not there?
- Know your neighbors – Are there other cultural institutions in your area that could provide help such as offering room for undamaged collections, or lend staff to salvage damaged materials?
Explore more about how to prepare your organization for emergency response by participating in the free workshop “Are You Ready? Preparing Heritage Institutions for Disaster Response” on October 5 in Salem. Click here to register online.
Check out these other sources of information about disaster planning:
- Minnesota Historical Society — Extensive disaster preparedness resources including “Salvage Procedures for Wet Items.”
- Be sure to take a look at The Great Oregon ShakeOut site, too! The Great Oregon ShakeOut is an annual opportunity to practice how to be safer during earthquakes.
Kristen Kern is the Fine and Performing Arts Librarian at Portland State University.