With the catastrophic winter weather that has been affecting Texas, libraries may be responding to freezing pipes and resulting water damage. Prioritize your safety and that of your staff. Once you all are safe, consult your local governing authority for more information about their requirements or directives.
Step one: Caring for staff
- Prioritize Safety: Blog post from Texas Collections Emergency Resource Alliance (TX-CERA).
- Tips for Retaining and Caring for Staff after a Disaster: Factsheet from the Department of Health and Human Services contains tips on immediate and short-term staff needs.
- Traumatic Incident Stress: Tips from the Center for Disease Control on recognizing the physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral signs of stress, and guidelines for prioritizing mental health.
Step two: Documenting and disposing of damaged items
Taken from the TSLAC blog post Lessons from Superstorm Sandy: New Jersey Librarians Share Tips on Dealing with Facilities and Collections.
- Document what has been damaged. Insurance company representatives might not arrive in the area until weeks later; take photos and document as much as possible as buildings become accessible.
- Dispose of damaged materials (books, furniture, shelving, etc.) as soon as possible to stop the spread of mold, which can start growing within 48 hours. The only exception is irreplaceable materials such as local history or museum collections. Standard books and furniture are replaceable.
Step three: Salvaging irreplaceable items
Here are resources on salvaging damaged materials that may be helpful for library staff and patrons:
- National Heritage Responders (NHR) – NHR responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. Volunteers can provide advice and referrals at (202) 661-8068 (urgent) or firstname.lastname@example.org (non-urgent). All assistance provided by the National Heritage Responders is free, a service from the American Institute for Conservation and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation.
- FEMA Heritage Emergency National Task Force factsheets: Information on preserving family treasures after a flood. Available in multiple languages, including Spanish and Vietnamese.
- Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative Response and Recovery Resources: Extensive collection of resources on emergency response.
Texas Library Association (TLA) Disaster Relief Fund: Grants range from $2,500 to $5,000 and can be used for technology, facility repair, collections, furnishings, or other needs related to storm damage. Academic, public, school and special libraries are eligible to receive assistance.
Communicating the Value of Library Workers in a Library Temporarily Closed to the Public: TSLAC blog post with tips and strategies on communicating the value of the library while the building is closed. TSLAC’s Planning for Libraries: Communications During COVID-19 includes more communications resources.