Group plans for emergency care of UD collections, holdings

5:41 p.m., Dec. 5, 2007--As a leading university, UD is a treasure trove of art, books, historical documents, manuscripts, records, musical instruments and many other valuable collections. Recently a new group, the Emergency Response Working Group for University Collections and Records (ERWG), has been formed to coordinate response and recovery activities in the event of an emergency situation.

“There are many invaluable and irreplaceable holdings and collections within the University," said Ian Janssen, director of Records Management and Archival Services. "While there are plans in place for people and business operations in case of emergency, there was no unifying organization or emergency planning for the different units involved in collections, working in tandem with public safety and occupational health and safety. ERWG was formed to encourage units to join forces and formulate plans for emergency response and recovery,” Janssen said.

Among the many participating administrative units are the University of Delaware Library, University Archives and Photographic Services in the Office of Public Relations. Academic units include art conservation, fashion and apparel studies, anthropology and several others.

ERWG is based on a mission statement and the goals of coordination, identification and education.

The mission is to “coordinate emergency preparedness planning, response operations and recovery activities among administrative and academic units that mange collections of objects and records of importance” through cooperation.

Coordination involves a “creation of understanding” that specifies how University units will assist each other in case of emergency. Besides coordinating efforts within the University, ERWG seeks agreements with federal and state government and nonprofit organizations to help in emergency situations.

Identification involves an assessment of risks and the formation of a pool of volunteers to be used for emergency response. Other factors are supplies, alternate workspaces, fiscal resources and outside assistance from the government and nonprofit organizations.

Education is another objective, with a strong training program through workshops in emergency response and recovery planning, and exercises and drills to test the effectiveness of emergency plans. A resource library also is planned in the Disaster Research Center.

The first meeting was held Nov. 19 to explore the ways ERWG should proceed. “We have a long way to go, but we are off to a good start,” Janssen said. “We welcome any groups with collections or holdings to join us in this effort.”

The next meeting will be held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 18, in 185 Graham Hall. Persons interested in attending or wishing more information may contact Janssen at []; Mary Durio, head, Preservation Department, Library, at []; Marcia Nickle, emergency preparedness coordinator at Public Safety, at []; Lisa Gensel, assistant archivist, University archives, at []; or Pat Young, library coordinator at the Disaster Research Center, at [].