Disaster planning

Disaster Preparation and 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.

ALIA has prepared a number of guides and templates to get you started towards disaster preparedness:

The ALIA guide to disaster planning, response and recovery for libraries takes you through the practical steps from initial planning to rebuilding a library following a disaster.

The Disaster Planning for Libraries document is a more detailed look at the planning phase and includes checklists and templates.

The ALIA disaster scenarios for staff training sessions can be used in practical training sessions to prepare staff and management to implement disaster plans.

You may also find the following guides useful in preparing your library for all situations:

Be Prepared - written by the Collections Australia Network, this publication contains information for smaller institutions on assessing and planning for disasters such as training needs, assessment considerations, safety and damage checklists and templates based on established disaster management plans.

The Personal continuity plan - prepared by RIM Professionals Australasia - is designed for households and the continuity of personal records and photographs.

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 your response using ALIA's Quick Guide to Disaster Response.

Disaster Recovery

Events such as 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 2015, through the FAIR campaign, ALIA raised funds to restock school libraries in Vanuatu following the devastation of Cyclone Pam.


For further information or inquiries about disaster recovery, please call ALIA
phone: 02 6215 8222