Disaster Management Plan - Disaster Prevention Recommendations (1995)

While natural catastrophes such as tornadoes and earthquakes are difficult to predict and impossible to prevent, it is possible to avoid or minimize the impact of many other potentially disastrous conditions. Disaster prevention, like insurance, can appear to be an expensive investment against events that may never occur, but it is far less costly than disaster recovery. Areas of concern are discussed below, followed by specific recommendations based on the 1991 Preservation Planning Program task force report and the current Disaster Management Task Force's more recent investigations. 

Rapid detection of fire and flooding is the most important factor in preventing a minor problem from escalating into a major disaster. While all of the Libraries' facilities may satisfy the building safety codes in place at the time they were built, addition sand improvements to detection systems would provide protection at a level more appropriate to the value of the Libraries' collections. Better detection is especially needed in areas that receive little traffic, at times when few staff members are at work, and when the Libraries are closed. 

In addition to improved detection systems, further measures can be taken to reduce the vulnerability of the Libraries' facilities and collections to damage form fire and flooding. These range from providing alternative storage for certain materials to making repairs and renovations to reduce the likelihood that damage will occur. 

A well-prepared staff can prove to be the Libraries' greatest asset in preventing disaster. Staff education is a low-cost investment that results in greater protection and safety for humans, buildings, and materials. The Libraries can also improve communication with other university departments such as Accounts Receivable (insurance) and Physical Plant. 


The following recommendations should receive top priority: 

Install a fire alarm system for the Library Repository. 

Install water and heat detectors in areas such as the Hargrett and Russell libraries where the value of materials is highest but security requirements do not permit inspection patrols when these areas are closed. 

Install public address systems in the Main and Science Libraries. Priority should be given to the Main Library because of the greater number of floors and isolated areas. 

The following recommendations are of lower priority, but are also low in cost; many could be accomplished by the investment of staff time alone: 

The Libraries Administration should make a special effort to cultivate an improved relationship with the University Physical Plant that promotes understanding of the special nature of library materials and the necessity of rapid response to problems. 

The Libraries' Administration should make arrangements with Physical Plant Engineering Administration for a complete evaluation of the electrical wiring in the Main and Science Libraries to determine whether it is sufficient to support the load of electrical equipment currently in use as well as the increased demand that will be created by future equipment purchases,especially those acquired through the Chancellor's Initiative. 

Request from the Environmental Safety Dept. an inspection of the ductwork in the Main Library Annex and the Science Library for cleanliness and proper functioning. 

Conduct an inventory of fire extinguishers in the Science Library and the Library Repository to determine whether they are sufficient in number and appropriate in type. 

Make certain that all alarms from detection devices sound in the Libraries Security office when the building is occupied and at the UGA Police Dept. dispatch office at all other times. 

Request more frequent pest control inspections and treatment for the drains of the Photographic Services. 

Monitor closely the proposed HVAC renovation project in the Main Library old building. All construction projects increase vulnerability to fire and water damage. The Libraries are in the best position to identify any hazards generated during the project and will also suffer the greatest loss if such hazards go unreported. 

Urge the planners of the HVAC renovation to require the contracting firm selected to do the work to carry insurance sufficient to cover damage to the Libraries' materials as well as to the physical structure. 

Investigate the cost and feasibility of implementing a caller identification service for the general telephone numbers in the Administrative Office, Circulation, and Reference Departments at the Main and Science Libraries so that threatening phone calls may be identified. 

Provide the University Accounts Receivable Department with an updated estimate of the total value of the Libraries holdings, broken down by building (Main, Science, and Repository) to make sure that current insurance coverage is sufficient. 

Conduct inventories in the Hargrett and Russell libraries to assess the value of the most important items and collections. Keep a set of these assessment records in a location other than the Libraries. 

Make copies (microfilm or photocopies) of catalog records that are not contained in GALIN and backed up on computer tape. These include Hargrett Library card files for Confederate Imprints, manuscripts, broadsides, sheet music, theater programs, and posters, Russell Library card files, and the Map Collection card files, and the segment of the Peabody Awards Digest of Entries that has not already been filmed. Copies of these files should be stored at the Library Repository. These records must be preserved in the event of disaster because it will prove extremely difficult in their absence to determine what was damaged or destroyed or to establish ownership for insurance purposes. 

Close all outside bookdrops when the Libraries are open. While bookdrops provide an alternative means for patrons to return library materials, they also increase the Libraries' vulnerability to arson and bomb attacks as well as to water damage. Closing the bookdrops when patrons can enter the building to return materials represents a compromise between convenience and safety. 

Provide more and better placed exit signs in stack areas of the Main and Science Libraries. The University Public Safety Dept. has recommended this improvement. 

Provide each department in the Libraries with a first-aid kit. 

Prepare a brief emergency procedures guide for the Main Library. In contrast to the more extensive procedures already in place, the brief emergency guide would provide a quick reference for all staff to keep at their desks and post in work areas. 

Write emergency procedures for the Library Repository. 

Offer annual safety refresher courses for Libraries staff who need a review since their initial orientation. All Libraries employees, including student assistants, should attend a safety refresher course at least once every five years. In addition to reviewing emergency procedures and communicating new safety developments, the course should provide a description of the various types of fire extinguishers located in the Libraries and instructions for their use. 

Develop safety checklists for each department in the Libraries to ensure safe use of equipment and supplies. 

The following recommendations should receive second priority and be implemented as funding allows: 

Provide offsite storage for all camera negative microfilm currently housed in the Main Library. Under present conditions all existing copies of microfilmed materials could be lost in the event of a major disaster. 

Increase the number of smoke detectors in the Main and Science Libraries. 

Implement a security patrol for nights and other times that the Libraries are unoccupied. This is a less expensive alternative to installing water and heat detectors for the general collections. 

Install automatic shut-off faucets in restrooms so that water cannot be left running inadvertently to cause flooding. 

Repair deteriorating walls on the south and west sides of the Main Library. 

Replace stair treads in the Science Library with more durable material as has already been done at the Main Library. 

Replace disintegrating ceiling tiles in the Science Library. 

Repair deteriorating floor tiles in the Reference and Circulation office areas.