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Subject: Salvage priorities

Salvage priorities

From: John McIntyre <pr261jm>
Date: Wednesday, November 20, 1996
Karen Potje <kpotje [at] cca__qc__ca>

>I would be interested in hearing from other institutions which have
>established salvage priorities.

In the hope that it is useful I offer the following information
based on the now long standing National Library of Scotland Disaster
    *   As will be appreciated, any decisions on priority selection
        have to be institutional decisions as it best understands
        the importance of the collections in its care.

        At NLS we have selected areas and items (mostly areas) for
        priority salvage based on the historical cultural importance
        to Scotland.  We do not to take into account monetary value
        as we see none of our collections entering the market.  Our
        responsibilities lie with protecting the written cultural
        heritage and information sources.  Difficult decisions
        sometimes have to be made as all the collections are
        important.  It becomes a matter of relative importance.

    *   We prefer to identify small areas of the collections which
        hold the above categories of material as it is much easier
        in an emergency situation to identify and remove a small
        area of the collections rather than to find an individual
        item.  This might not be so with smaller collections.  We
        have 7 million volumes, 100,00 volumes of MSS and 1.5
        million sheet maps.

    *   In our reaction document we identify the priority areas and
        use floor plans of the storage areas.  Floor plans of all
        the areas are included in the document whether or not it is
        a priority area.

    *   It is better to try to protect individual "treasures" by
        special protective measures such as protective containers,
        enclosures or fire/waterproof cabinets or safes rather than
        to rely wholly on salvage.

    *   In addition to the identified priority areas, our document
        includes lists of the most important collections areas with
        the names of 3 curatorial staff members against each area.
        In the event of such areas being effected or threatened by
        an emergency, the named staff member will be called and
        expected to respond with the emergency team (this is a
        responsibility they have).  With their intimate knowledge of
        the collection area for which they are responsible priority
        salvage operations should be more efficient.  This
        complements the floor plan arrangement rather than replaces
        it, "belt and braces" so to speak.

Finally, may I pass on a comment which I frequently make and feel is
very important in planning a reaction capability.  Your reaction
document should be as simple and uncomplicated as possible in order
for it to be workable.  For the problem Karen wisely raises colour
coded floor plans serve well to identify priority salvage areas.
Nobody knows how people will react in an emergency until one is
experienced and simplicity and workability is vitally important.

I hope this is helpful,

John E McIntyre
Head of Preservation
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh  EH1 1EW
+44 131 226 4531
Fax: +44 131 220 6662

                  Conservation DistList Instance 10:49
                Distributed: Thursday, November 21, 1996
                       Message Id: cdl-10-49-011
Received on Wednesday, 20 November, 1996

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