Good stewards protect the collections in their care. It is one of the fundamental responsibilities of an archivist. The groundbreaking Heritage Health Index survey, released in 2005 soon after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma struck the Gulf Coast, reported that few institutions have disaster plans and for those that do, often the plan is out of date. With a host of competing tasks, it's easy to put off emergency response planning in favor of tasks where there is more immediate feedback. Given that so many people have precious family archives, you as an individual, need to plan for the inevitable as well.
Today, May 1 affords you just the opportunity to take action – only one simple thing -- to make a difference when and if an emergency occurs. That’s the purpose of MayDay – a grassroots effort whose goal is to save our archives, both institutional and personal.
MayDay is a time when archivists and other cultural heritage professionals take personal and professional responsibility for doing something simple – something that can be accomplished in a day but that can have a significant impact on an individual’s or a repository’s ability to respond.
For example, last year, I encouraged all library staff to locate the two closest fire extinguishers closest to their assigned work stations. Library staff received an e-mail from me this morning with a PDF of the information created by the Georgia Archives, "Essential Records for Families" URL: http://www.georgiaarchives.org/documents/caringforrecords/essential_family_records.pdf Perhaps you'll find the checklist helpful as well. We do live in an active hurricane and earthquake zone, after all.
Remember, all that is asked of you is to take one simple - completed in a day - step to increase your emergency preparedness and thereby protect your family treasures.