Disaster Management for Libraries: Planning and Process, by Claire England and Karen Evans. Canadian Library Association (200 Elgin St., Suite 602, Ottawa, Ont. K2P 1LS). 207 pp. ISBN 0-88802-197-6. $20 to members, $25 nonmembers.Reviewed by Sally Buchanan
The Canadian Library Association has published a new book, Disaster Management for Libraries: Planning and Process. The authors, Claire England and Karen Evans, have chosen to divide it into three sections: "Anticipating Disaster," "Reacting to Disaster," and "Preserving Collections." Published management perspectives on preservation issues are not numerous, so this approach is welcome. It is not clear at times, however, whether this is advice and commentary about management issues, or is strictly sound but general advice on disaster planning and recovery.
In the first section the authors define disasters, presenting the argument that acute disasters are those that are calamitous, sudden events, while quiet disasters are those of deteriorating collections. They state that in either case management response should be built around four standpoints, "anticipation, appraisal, action, and awareness." Gordon Wright contributes an excellent chapter, "A Management Perspective on Disaster Planning," in which he discusses at some length factors in the management of (acute) disaster--social behavior, authority, communications, personnel issues and coordination. He strongly encourages solid disaster planning supervised by a senior manager. There is also an informative chapter on insurance and risk management considerations. One aspect of this section I found disturbing was the firm statement made several times and in different contexts, of the "rule" that recovering books from a disaster is more expensive than replacing them. The authors offer no evidence to substantiate this "rule," however. Ignoring the fact that in a great percentage of cases material is not replaceable, it has been this reviewer s experience that recovery has always been less expensive than replacement, especially if total costs for both are compared.
The second section advises about reacting to fire, water, and chemical contamination. This information is fairly general, and relies heavily on the excellent An Ounce of Prevention and Peter Waters's 1979 Procedures for Salvage of Water-Damaged Library Materials. The authors are too liberal with their advice to use thymol, for my comfort, because the inexperienced do not appreciate its dangers, and may not take the extreme care required. England and Evans warn that thymol is dangerous, but proceed to provide details on its use, including the production of interleaving sheets. I have some additional concerns in this section that might be pointed out:
The final section discusses basic preservation issues with general commentary upon brittle books, reformatting, repair, environment for a variety of formats, and literature in the field. Management issues are kept to a minimum.
Appendices include sample forms, addresses, and an annotated bibliography.