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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  April 2006, Week 3

ARCHIVES April 2006, Week 3

Subject:

MayDay emergency preparedness

From:

Richard Pearce-Moses <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Richard Pearce-Moses <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 16 Apr 2006 11:54:32 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (61 lines)

Folks,

One week after I took office as President of SAA last year, Katrina hit
Mississippi and the levees broke in New Orleans.  With the assistance of
Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States, help a small disaster
assessment team get to the Mississippi Coast to inspect the damage first
hand.

I was on that team, and what I saw remains vivid to this day.  In many
areas, the destruction was complete; all that was left of the Waveland City
Hall was the cement slab.  What I remember most, though, were the many
individuals who worked to recover their collections, often putting their
responsibilities as custodians of their communities' heritage ahead of
their personal lives.

While there, members of the team observed that often relatively small
efforts of disaster preparedness made a big difference.  In Waveland, the
city council minutes were moved to a more secure location; while all other
records were lost, these essential records were preserved.

It's so easy to put off emergency preparedness.  Although it's important,
it's not urgent.  The patron at the reference desk, the donor with a great
collection, the backlog needing processing are all starring in our faces
and demanding our attention.  Hurricanes may give us some warning, but
fires, floods, earthquakes, and toronados do not.

The Society of American Archivists is encouraging every archivist to take
some personal responsibility for emergency preparedness one day each year.
We hope that on that day, all archivists will do something -- no matter how
small -- to help protect their collections.  We hope that many repositories
will undertake activities at an institutional level.  But if not,
individuals can make sure they know the location of here the nearest fire
extinguisher and alarm, ensure that paths to emergency exits are clear,
that materials they are responsible are in boxes.

The spirit of MayDay is to do something small, something that can be done
in a day.  It's not intended for major projects such as writing a disaster
plan, although MayDay might be a good kickoff day.

The SAA website (www.archivists.org/mayday/MayDayActivityList.pdf) lists a
number of ideas.

Please join your colleagues in participating in MayDay this coming May 1.
If you do, please send a note to [log in to unmask]

Thanks,

Richard Pearce-Moses

A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
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