Who ya gonna call?

Photo of a group of people

What disaster is the team gearing up for? See below…

[Ed. note: this article was co-authored by Ann Frellsen.]

Did you know that LITS has a disaster plan and collections emergency response team? The Preservation Office’s Conservation team is trained to preserve, protect, and is on-call 24/7 to rescue any of the nine Emory University Libraries’ (including the Oxford and Storage libraries) special and general collection materials from threats such as water, mold, bugs, and fire.

In the event of a disaster at an Emory library, and after campus or county first responders determine that an incident site is safe to re-enter, your LITS responders are on the scene to save Emory’s cultural heritage artifacts and collections.

The Conservation team, Ann Frellsen, Julie Newton, and Kirsten Wehner, focuses on preventive measures: disaster planning and environmental monitoring, in particular. Kirsten, the team’s science expert, keeps a watchful eye on environmental data collected from the libraries’ exhibition and special collections storage areas, as well as external data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and works with university engineers to predict, prevent and mitigate incidents.

Leading the team is Collections Conservator Frellsen, a veteran member of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work’s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT). She has experience working with cultural heritage sites and collections damaged in Hurricanes Ivan (FL) and Katrina (MS). Ann, Kirsten, and Julie are trained in FEMA’s Incident Command System in order to work with county, state, and regional first responders and emergency managers. All three are steering committee members of Heritage Emergency Response Alliance (HERA) Atlanta, which provides mutual aid, and disaster planning and recovery education for metro area cultural institutions.

The team will teach a hands-on workshop on wet salvage techniques for HERA at the Georgia Archives on May 1st. Every year libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, and preservation organizations are encouraged to set aside May 1 to participate in MayDay, a nationwide effort to help prepare institutions for disasters. For more information on HERA or similar workshops, please contact Julie at jnewt01 [at] emory [dot] edu, or link to the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ATLHERA.

(And what disaster is the team geared up for in the photo above? Rescuing dozens of cockroach-infested boxes full of important business records.)

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