Disaster Planning for Smaller Archives, Libraries and Museums

Not quite bolting the stable door, but, since this year's incident, it was realised that we needed an updated disaster plan.

So, when this workshop was advertised, it came at just the right time, especially as the new museum accreditation scheme will demand that we have a disaster plan in place.

The meeting was held in the Conference Centre of The British Library.

What a diverse and interesting group, some from museums of which I certainly wasn't aware, such as The Society of Apothecaries, The Foundling Museum, Museum of the Order of St. John.

The opening remark, as in so many areas of life now, was since 9/11. This meant that terrorist action must be part of the plan, more so if the collection contained artifacts of muslim origin.

I have to say it had a rather Monty Python feeling sitting amongst a group of representatives of mainly small local museums and talking about terrorist attacks and discussing the Blue Shield. In case you hadn't heard of it the Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. Its remit is to work to protect cultural heritage from armed conflict, natural and man made disasters. Its protocol also makes cultural offences a war crime, but includes rules as to when a heritage site can become a legitimate military target!

After this introduction the workshop returned to the area most of us think of as the disasters we would encounter, flood and fire.

The workshop was well organised and proved a useful and comprehensive guide to how to set up a plan.

As part of the workshop we carried out an exercise on dealing with a flood in a small local museum, a bit of déjà vu there.

The next stage is to set up our own, new, disaster plan.

Meg Thomas,

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