Disaster Planning

Disaster Preparation & Planning

A well-documented and tested disaster plan can ensure library staff respond quickly and effectively, minimise loss of stock and equipment, ensure the safety and well being of staff, provide continuity of service in some circumstances, and recover quickly. Plans are most effective if staff are trained in using the disaster response plan, and the plan is easily accessible when it's needed most.

Libraries can find their premises, collections, staff and users under sudden threat, in the case of a fire or burst water pipe in the building. They can be part of a bigger disaster, for example a flood, not only damaging the building and contents, but also affecting the wider community. Libraries sometimes emerge unscathed from a disaster and become part of the essential support service afterwards, as happened in the 2009 Victorian bushfires and the 2011 Queensland floods.

In 2009 ALIA first prepared a number of guides and templates to get you started towards disaster preparedness, and in 2019 these were updated:

The ALIA Disaster Management for Libraries. Part One - Guide (2ndEdition 2019) takes you through the practical steps to safeguard your library or cultural institution and plan in advance for possible disasters.

The ALIA Disaster Management for Libraries. Part Two - Disaster PlanTemplate (2nd Edition 2019) has been flexibly designed for your library or cultural institution to develop its own Disaster Plan. It is to be used in conjunction with Part One, which provides an overview and context for the Disaster Plan.

The ALIA Disaster Scenarios for Staff Training Sessions can be used in practical training sessions to prepare staff and management to implement disaster plans.

Other useful guides and resources useful in preparing your library for all situations can be found at:

Disaster Response

In an emergency, you may not have time to formulate a plan and communicate this to your staff in time. Be prepared to act quickly and efficiently by preparing an Emergency Contacts list (example included in the ALIA Disaster Management for Libraries. Part Two - Disaster Plan Template).

Disaster Recovery

Events such as the 2019/2020 bushfires, the 2010 Christchurch earthquake and the 2011 Queensland floods show that it can take months or perhaps even years for libraries and communities to recover from disaster.
ALIA assists libraries with disaster recovery through:

  • Coordinating with other cultural institutions
  • Coordinating with other library associations
  • Disseminating information about libraries which may have been affected by a disaster
  • Making submissions to royal commissions of Inquiry etc

How ALIA has supported communities

  • The ALIA Rebuilding with Books campaign saw $110,000-worth of books distributed to families who lost their homes in the Victorian bushfires of 2009.
  • In 2011, during the 2011 Queensland floods, ALIA coordinated communication and support for libraries.
  • In 2015, through the FAIR campaign, ALIA raised funds to restock school libraries in Vanuatu following the devastation of Cyclone Pam.
  • During the 2019/2020 bushfires ALIA provided support and resources to affected libraries and communities. 

ALIA and Blue Shield Australia
ALIA is a founding organisation of Blue Shield Australia.

ALIA is a founding member of Blue Shield Australia, a network of committees of dedicated individuals across the world that is: ‘committed to the protection of the world’s cultural property, and is concerned with the protection of cultural and natural heritage, tangible and intangible, in the event of armed conflict, natural- or human-made disaster’.

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) is the professional organisation for the Australian library and information services sector. With 5,000 members across Australia, we provide the national voice of the profession in the development, promotion and delivery of quality library and information services, through leadership, advocacy and mutual support.


For further information or inquiries about disaster recovery, please call ALIA
Phone: 02 6215 8222
Email: [email protected]