Disaster Response and Salvage Training
Recently I attended a British Library training day on ‘Disaster Response and Salvage Training’ (for libraries, that is). It was a fascinating day which kicked off with some rather compelling case studies of damage experienced across the UK. This not only emphasised the importance of the subject matter, but was an interesting exercise in learning not only from other people’s mistakes but from their preparedness.
The course was led by Emma Dadson from Harwell Document Restoration Services, whose breadth of knowledge on the topic was extremely impressive. Emma has been in the industry for 12 years and has been involved in some very high profile salvage operations, including those at the National Library of Wales and after the recent fire at the Glasgow School of Art. I cannot speak highly enough of Emma’s professionalism, public speaking skills and industry knowledge – you could not ask for a better trainer on this subject.
As well as working through a number of case studies and general information about salvage and disaster response for both paper and non-paper items, the day also included an adult version of what children’s librarians refer to as wet play. We were divided into groups and given a box of books and other resources that had been water damaged (i.e. Emma had tipped water into the boxes). We then went through the items and set them out for salvage as best we could, following what we had learnt throughout the day. It was a great way to put our learning into practice and also see how working in teams could affect a salvage operation. Part of the training room floor was covered in plastic for this section of the course!
Also on that note, the British Library has lovely training facilities and equally lovely training packages featuring none other than Sherlock Holmes. The packages themselves are extensive and also contained Template Emergency Plan provided by Harwell. Although a number of the attendees were from large libraries, some were from consultancies or smaller organisations, for whom such a template could be incredibly valuable.
As well as learning a lot, the day was also a great opportunity to meet other librarians and conservators and – as always – to network. I even met one librarian I had already ‘spoken’ to on Twitter. The day was highly interesting and informative and I would strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about what is actually a fascinating – and crucial – topic.
Contributed by: Anne-Marie Nankivell