Appendix H: Additional Disaster Recovery Resources

Reference Number: 



Disaster Planning for County Records

If county officials or county records commissions would like further guidance or assistance in organizing a disaster planning committee or organizing a disaster preparedness plan please contact:

Preservation Services Section
Tennessee State Library & Archives
403 7th Ave N.
Nashville, Tennessee  37243-0312
Carol Roberts, Director

(Examples of disaster plans are available upon request.)

Disasters are not just from tornadoes or floods. They are just as likely to be the result of accidental fires, arson, or plumbing problems. It is important to remember that a few advance plans and notes can reduce the cost of recovering permanent records. We may not be able to prevent or stop an accident or disaster but we can certainly try to reduce the damage to the records. Preparing a plan of action will greatly reduce the distress or concern of recovering original permanent records.

A Disaster Recovery or Preparedness Committee should keep some of the plan’s details and staff responsibilities current and in practice in the event of a disaster.

A disaster plan should include and or gather some of the following details and resources.

1.  Emergency Procedures

  1.   Prepare a plan unique to your office, situation, or county. It is best to organize information to be available to everyone who maybe responsible for the building, records and business of the county.
  2.    Make notes on the types of anticipated problems, but be prepared to expect the unexpected.
  3.    Prepare immediate actions for various types of emergencies for example, fire alarms, bomb threats, tornadoes, flooding, be aware of current county procedures of the fire departments, county emergency management departments, police and sheriff’s departments, and any Homeland Security concerns.

2.  Prioritize the Materials

  1.   What is the most valuable set of materials to be recovered in your office?
  2.    What cannot be replaced?  Original records that must be preserved must be identified and noted as a priority for recovery. 
  3.    What can be replaced or has a security copy, for example do you have security microfilm, back-up computer tapes, or back-up CDs stored in a secure off-site location?
  4.   Know the types of media in the collection. Today’s office has permanent records in many formats,  books, papers, computer files, and CDs, or DVDs.

3.  Awareness of Recovery Basics

  1.   Some salvage techniques are basic and use common sense techniques. In the example of wet records and books, they can be air dried by using the HVAC system to improve air temperatures and air flow.
  2.    Know you limitations and when it is best too call in disaster recovery companies.
  3.    Study and improve awareness of some basic do’s and don’ts for the various types of media.

4.  Organized Recovery Team

  1.   It is best to have an overall coordinator, someone who can communicate throughout the county government the key responsibilities of caring for the records.
  2.    Receive input from all aspects, offices, and divisions of the organization.
  3.    Organize and educate the recovery team. Each member of the committee or team should know or have a specific duty. 

5.  Organized Record-Keeper of the Disaster

  1.   Planned tasks in the event of a disaster, who is responsible for
  2.    Photographs or video are the best and easiest way of taking notes of the event for the record and for insurance.

6.  Resource Check Lists (very important tools of the plan)

  1.   Create a phone list or “tree” of all phone numbers of key employees, leaders of disaster team.
  2.    Emergency numbers
    1.    police, fire, etc.
    2.    people willing to volunteer to assist
    3.    insurance representatives
    4.    disaster recovery companies
    5.    state officials
    6.     legal council in event of legal issues and responsibility
  3.    Supplies that might be needed
  4.   Floor plans or locations of
    1.    vital records
    2.    utility connections
    3.    fire extinguishers
    4.    keys

7.         Plan must be simple and itemized for easy use in an emergency.

8.         Plan must be easy to organize and revise.

9.         Plan must be updated regularly and kept pertinent to new situations within the organization.

10.       The Disaster Committee members or at least the coordinator should keep an updated copy of the plan at home or somewhere other than the office.


Bibliography of Samples of Disaster Planning Sources

These are just a few examples of resources on disaster planning and preparedness. This is a constantly changing field and new sources can only add to the updated plan.

A Primer on Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Response:  Paper Based Materials. Selected reprints issued by Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress, and National Park Service,  October 1993.

Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC)

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry: A Step-By-Step Approach to Emergency Planning, Response and Recovery for Companies of All Sizes.Washington, DC: FEMA, 1993. Order from: Publications Distribution Center , P.O. Box 2012 , Jessup, MD 20794. Tel: 1(800) 480-2520.

Fortson, Judith. Disaster Planning and Recovery. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1992. Available from: The Society of American Archivists, 600 S. Federal Street, Suite 504, Chicago, IL  60605, Tel: (312) 922-0140.

National Archives and Records Administration, Office of Records Administration. Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery. College Park, MD: NARA, 1996. Available from: Publications and Distribution Staff (NECD) RM. G-9 , National Archives, Washington, D.C. 20408.

Waters, Peter.  Procedures for Salvage of Water- Damaged Library Materials.  Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.  1979. (Library of Congress National Preservation Program;LM-G21; Washington D.C. 20540.

Northeast Document Conservation Center Technical Leaflets. (Various leaflets pertaining to emergency management.) NEDCC;  100 Brickstone Square; Andover, MA   01810-1494; 508-470-1010;

Barton, John P., and Johanna C. Wellheiser, eds.  An Ounce of Prevention:  Handbook on Disaster Planning for Archives, Libraries, and Record Centres. Toronto:  Toronto Area Archivists & Group Education Foundation, 1985,  P.O. Box 97, Station F, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2L4.

Disaster Recovery Yellow Pages.  Systems Audit Group, Inc.; Order Dept.; 25 Ellison Rd.  Newton, MA  02159;  617-332-3496.

National Fire Protection Association.  Protection of Libraries and Library Collections.  (NFPA 910-1991);  Protection of Museums and Museum Collections (NFPA 911-1991);  Archives and Records Centers (NFPA 932AM);  and Fire Protection in Historic Structures (NFPA 914-1994). (NFPA, P.O. Box 9146; Batterymarch Park; Quincy, MA  02269; 1-800-344-3555).

SOLINET  Technical Leaflets,

“Contents of a Disaster Plan,” “Check List of Disaster Recovery Resources,” “Check List for Disaster Prevention & Protection”

SOLINET  (Southeastern Library Network Inc.)  Suite 200;  1438 West Peachtree St. N.W.;  Atlanta, GA  30309-2955  1-800-999-8558.