Skip to Main Content
Syracuse University Libraries

Preservation: Disaster Management

Preservation information from the Syracuse University Libraries' Preservation Department. Book repair techniques, general information on preservation practices, and other resources.

Disaster Recovery Manual (2020)

The Syracuse University Libraries’ Disaster Recovery Plan for library materials outlines procedures for salvaging a wide variety of library materials in the event of a disaster or minor emergency. We have designed this plan to help library staff cope with and recover materials from minor emergencies that typically involve 500 or less items.  This resource can be downloaded in sections or as a complete manual.

Emergency Resources

Additional Selected Resources

Here are some information resources from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Disaster Lit: Database for Disaster Medicine and Public Health is the National Library of Medicine (NLM) database of links to disaster medicine and public health documents available on the Internet at no cost. Documents include expert guidelines, research reports, conference proceedings, training classes, fact sheets, websites, databases, and similar materials for a professional audience. (description from their website)

Library Resources

Disaster Planning for Libraries

Libraries are constantly at risk. Every day, many libraries and their collections are damaged by fire, flooding, high winds, power outages, and criminal behaviour. Every library needs a plan to protect its staff, sites and collections, including yours. Disaster Planning for Libraries provides a practical guide to developing a comprehensive plan for any library. 

Library As Safe Haven

Libraries have always played a special role in times of disaster by continuing to provide information services. The Stafford Act of 211 designates libraries as among the temporary facilities delivering essential services, so the federal government directive for a Continuity of Operations Plan for all its agencies is a planning imperative for libraries. 

Disaster Response and Planning for Libraries

Fire, water, mold, construction problems, power-outages--mishaps like these can not only bring library services to a grinding halt, but can also destroy collections and even endanger employees. Preparing for the unexpected is the foundation of a library's best response. Expert Kahn comes to the rescue with this timely update of the best step-by-step, how-to guide for preparing and responding to all types of library disasters. 

Technology Disaster Response and Recovery Planning

The Mississippi River breaks high-water records across its Illinois and Iowa banks. Hurricane Sandy slams the New Jersey shore causing $36.8 billion in damage. Is your library ready? While disaster planning is part of most libraries strategic planning and budgeting process, too often the technology component is overlooked.

Emergency Preparedness for Libraries

Despite the volumes of information they contain, few libraries, whose population at any given moment is as unpredictable as the weather, know how to prepare for, endure, and survive a disaster, whether natural or man-made, and even fewer put their know-how to paper. Emergency Preparedness for Libraries provides library management with a comprehensive guide to planning and executing emergency procedures. 


Resilience is the second volume in a new series from ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries which focuses on emerging trends in the profession, provoking discussion on how to shape the future by sharing ideas and exploring joint solutions to the challenges facing libraries and society. Resilience (or resiliency) incorporates preparations for and rapid recovery from physical, social, and economic disruptions, including environmental disasters, terrorist attacks, or economic collapse.



There are three phases of disaster and emergency management:  Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.  At Syracuse University Libraries, we are planning for all three phases. 

For example, as part of our preparedness, posters like the one below are posted at every staff elevator entrance.  They can't be missed!   The poster indicates exactly where disaster recovery kits are located on the specific floor.  In an water emergency, these posters serve as easy-to-find reminders of where important supplies are located.

Library staff receive training in disaster response when initially hired and at periodic intervals afterwards. 



Plastic sheeting and absorbent booms (on floor) used to protect stacks during a small water leak in Special Collections.

If an emergency occurs, the Disaster Response Team is called into action.

At right, plastic sheeting and absorbent booms (on floor) were used to protect stacks during a small water leak in Special Collections.


Our disaster kits contain:  Disaster Manual on waterproof paper, form for reporting a disaster, Quick instructions with “what to say”  when calling to report a disaster, aprons, cordon yellow police line tape, clothes pins, duct tape, exacto knife & refills, extension cord (100 ft.), flashlight & batteries, goggles, hard hats, latex gloves, paper towels, plastic rolled sheeting (10 x 25 ft.), plastic roll (12 x 100ft., stored on bin), permanent markers (red and  black), scissors, string, surge protector strip, tape dispenser (for boxes), tape refills, towels,  trash bags (33 gallon), wax paper (9 x 12”), whistle, zip lock bags.

Students save water damaged books by interleaving the pages with paper towels before they are dried with fans.


During the recovery period, adjustments may be made to continue services at another location or online, staff may be temporarily assigned to recovery tasks, and so on.

Also, the disaster response is assessed to allow for continual improvement.  For example, Syracuse University Libraries added small super-absorbent towels to disaster kits in response to staff suggestions.  The kits already had paper towels, but these new towels provide staff with an additional option during water leak events.