Preparing Collections for Shutdowns

Advanced preparation for shutdowns, either rapid or planned, can ensure that library collections are protected from damage while we’re away. 

The key is for library managers to plan ahead with the Facilities Manager to address the following activities when few or no library staff are onsite:

  • HVAC systems and any standalone/portable units
    • Continue systems operation and maintenance to ensure seasonally appropriate preservation storage conditions.
    • Preservation staff are happy to discuss “Unoccupied” set points for temperature, humidity, outside air intake and air exchanges directly with library and facilities managers.
    • Depending on the time of year, discuss threats to collections including mold (above 70% relative humidity) as well as heating-season dryness (below 30% relative humidity).
  • Walkthroughs of collections storage areas with an eye towards monitoring collection condition, not just building security
    • Preservation recommends doing this at least twice a week, with additional checks immediately following stormy weather.
    • Preservation can provide a checklist of what to look for.
  • Monthly pest inspections and prevention procedures
    • Prior to shutting down, empty all trash, remove all food and food waste from offices and communal areas, and tightly close exterior doors and windows.
  • Returning or incoming collections
    • Plan for their receipt and storage including inspecting the containers for pests, mold, and water.
  • Construction/renovation
    • Ensure that any in-process construction areas are tidied prior to shutting down.
    • All food waste and standing water must be removed.
    • Aisles should be cleared to enable emergency response if needed.
    • Exposed collections should be covered with plastic sheeting to protect from debris from overhead construction.
  • Emergency plan call tree
    • Verify your communication plan in case of emergency.
    • Make sure HU Operations and the local facilities manager have contact information for the library decision-makers.
  • Holiday shutdowns are no different and carry similar risks to unplanned shutdowns. 
    • Conduct walkthroughs and pest inspections, maintain HVAC as well as standalone humidifiers/dehumidifiers, and properly store incoming mail.

Preservation staff would be happy to participate in conversations among library and facilities staff if that would be helpful. 

Details for a rapid shutdown scenario would be a great addition to your emergency plans!