Pandemic Projects: Avon’s History Room Disaster Plan

Today we are excited to bring you the fourth post from Tina Panik, Reference & Adult Services Manager at the Avon Free Public Library in Avon, CT. Under Tina’s guidance, Avon is a very active member of the CTDA Community and we are happy to highlight their work!

It seems ironic to be discussing a Disaster Plan while we’re in the middle of a world-wide disaster, Covid-19. Yet the pandemic isn’t the threat a Disaster Plan is meant to be a resource for; it’s designed to mitigate the stresses of natural disasters, floods, destruction, fires, and acts of God. It provides instruction for the things, not the people, injured in a catastrophe.

Those who work in libraries know that municipal buildings are vulnerable to leaky roofs, broken HVAC systems, construction projects, aging structural failures, and chaos created by Mother Nature. These events tend to happen in the middle of a budget crunch, during a shift when the library is short staffed, and when the key decision makers are on vacation. Enter, the Disaster Plan!

A Disaster Plan outlines who to contact, for what, and when. It includes contact information for key staff, volunteers, and resources. It may also include a physical Disaster Kit containing items specific to archive damage control and mitigation. We purchased our items from Hollinger Metal Edge.

Our project was funded by a Traveling Archvist Grant* from the Connecticut State Library, and we worked with Moira Conlan throughout the process. We leveraged the templates available on dPLan, downloading a template and customizing it to fit the Avon Library’s needs, as our history room collection is jointly owned by the Avon Library and Avon Historical Society, and both parties are listed as stakeholders in this plan.

As a municipal department, the Avon Library leverages relationships with the town manager’s office, public works, and other municipal colleagues in the event of an emergency. The recommendations and contacts within each section of our Disaster Plan reference a person’s position, then lists the current person in that position, to assure accuracy of contact, and continuity in case of succession. Creating a Disaster Plan is an exercise in communication and networking. The emergency responders, contractors, and account holders who occupy peripheral space in our everyday library lives become front and center in an emergency; creating a Disaster Plan allows these relationships to grow before an actual disaster happens.

Copies (both electronic and physical) of our plan have been distributed to our stakeholders, and our Disaster Kit has been created. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it.

  • This project was made possible through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and administered by the Connecticut State Library on behalf of the Connecticut State Historical Records Advisory Board and Conservation ConneCTion.

Connecticut Digital Archive Connect is the publication of the Connecticut Digital Archive, a program of the UConn Library. Visit https://ctdigitalarchive.org to learn more.

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Tina Panik

Tina Panik is the Reference and Adult Services Manager at the Avon Free Public Library in Avon, CT.