Transforming a Storage Closet into a Disaster Supply Cache

For years the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library (AUC-RWWL) has maintained a list of emergency supplies and corresponding locations throughout the library.  The list is circulated to key staff members and updated annually; yet the supplies are dispersed throughout the three-story facility and therefore not easily accessible.  Moreover, we were lacking some key items needed for a quick response should we suffer a disaster.  In an emergency situation, time is of the essence and it is chaotic to have to run around a large building retrieving supplies and equipment. Having a centralized supply cache is critical to a swift and efficient response.

In 2014 the Library forHERA pic 1med a Disaster Plan Working Group charged with reviewing and updating emergency policies and procedures.  Reviewing disaster supplies was tasked to the Collections Assessment and Recovery Team.  Because the library does not have centralized office supplies, and housekeeping and many building maintenance activities are outsourced, we discovered the absence of basic supplies that could be repurposed for disaster response. Fortunately, funds were allocated to purchase supplemental emergency supplies that were combined with items collected from offices and locations around the building.

Subsequently, a location needed to be secured to store the supplies.  Staff identified a storage closet on the first floor of the building’s atrium that was secure, centrally located, and could be repurposed in order to store emergency supplies.

After a little bit of moving and cleaning, the space now works nicely for storing AUC-RWWL’s disaster supplies.

HERA pic 2The closet is locked and accessible to library administration and disaster team members only.  Supplies that are used must be recorded on a check out form so inventory can be replaced.

Supplies included in the closet fall into several broad categories:  boxes & packout, cleaning & debris removal, documentation, drying, personal protective equipment and tools & equipment.  Most of the supplies are ordinary items such as brooms, mops, buckets, fans, wet dry vacuums, plastic sheeting, and a first aid kit.

More specialized supHERA pic 3plies include nitrile gloves, respirators, freezer and newsprint paper for drying collections, and soot removal sponges.  Equipping this supply cache is key to the library’s emergency preparedness efforts and is certain to speed up response should a disaster or incident strike the AUC-RWWL.

As you are putting together your institution’s cache of disaster supplies, here are some resources from Heritage Preservation and the National Park Service to help in the process.

HERA pic 4     By Christine Wiseman

Head, Digital Services Unit
Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
Co-Chair HERA