IFLA Disaster Preparedness and Planning: A Brief Manual

by John Mcllwain

International Preservation Issues (IPI) 6

The IFLA Preservation and Conservation Core Activity (PAC) has one major goal: “to ensure that library and archive materials, published and unpublished, in all formats will be preserved in accessible form for as long as possible.”

Among the range of preventive measures which may postpone the decay of its collections, those included in disaster planning are of high priority.

Looking back to recent events, we must acknowledge that armed conflicts and natural disasters do not lessen in number but, on the contrary, have a serious tendency to increase. In the framework of the Blue Shield, IFLA-PAC has been organising or participating in a number of events – conferences, seminars, workshops – in order to raise awareness on risks threatening the documentary heritage.

In 2003 a survey was launched worldwide among national libraries in order to know which ones did have a disaster plan. Results were alarming. Out of 177 libraries, only 39 have a disaster plan. Although 28 intend to produce one, the reason stated for not having done so before was the lack of models. This is quite surprising if you consider the number of exis­ ting publications, manuals or booklets on the question. Nevertheless most of them are writ­ ten in English, some of them are extremely sophisticated and not applicable to small institutions with limited resources; consequently IFLA-PAC decided to prepare a basic manual focusing on the main points to take into consideration when writing a disaster plan: assessing risks, managing the disaster risk, getting ready to cope when disaster strikes, responding and getting back to normal are the main stages of this publication. In order to make it accessible to the greatest number of institutions world wide we publish it initially in a trilingual version (at first), hoping that this will arouse numerous other translations.

Marie-Thérèse Varlamoff
IFLA-PAC Director, 2006


Standards, Preservation and Conservation, Disaster management, Disaster planning

Last update: 16 June 2020