Disaster Management Plans, Insurance & Micro-Filming – Dublin

Hi Michelle & Robin,

You can probably guess from the title what has been absorbing part of my week…..

I’ve been reviewing the disaster management plan for the Archives here and the question of contents insurance for the Archives came up. The insurance policy is held by the Irish Province and a representative from the insurance company is due to visit the Province Administration Offices next week – so good timing. The building and contents (furniture, office equipment etc) are covered but the policy specifically states that documents are not. Granted our wonderful archival collections are unique and completely irreplacable, I can understand why insurance companies won’t/can’t put a value on the contents, but I was hoping they might provide cover for conservation/preservation work in the event of fire/smoke/water damage.

Is there anything similar in place in Canada or Australia?

We are signing up with a UK based commercial company that offers disaster recovery and salvage services in the event of a disaster, but it would be great if the costs of remedial conservation work were covered in an insurance policy.

A quick straw poll of other similar sized archival repositories indicates that some have insurance cover (with limited cover for conservation costs), and others leave it in the hands of their building managers! Also most don’t have a policy (or the financial where withal) to create surrogate copies of prioritised archival collections. Where this has been done, they have been created on micro-film rather than digitised. Is this something that has been pursued in the Loreto Canadian or Australian archives?

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3 thoughts on “Disaster Management Plans, Insurance & Micro-Filming – Dublin

  1. I must say, I have been remiss in this and I appreciate the prompting to do something about it. The building and contents is insured, of course, and the more valuable pieces in the collection, but, as you say, vital records are much harder to value and insure. I have asked if our insurance company has an option for covering disaster recovery and will let you know. I have a disaster plan and disaster kit for small problems – such as a leaking roof – but would be pretty stumped if the roof blew off! We have a gas fire retardant system in the new repository which I hope would protect against fire, but if the fire brigade come in and start hosing, the water will still be a problem. I can give you a copy of our Disaster Plan, if that would help, but I think you are way ahead of me!

  2. Thanks Robin, I’m happy with our reviewed Disaster Plan for the minute and a disaster kit to cope with small problems is on it’s way… The disaster response company we are signing up with offers immediate response with a salvage team, local freezing & drying facilities, salvage supplies etc.
    I’ll update the blog on the response we get from the insurance company regarding insuring parts of the collection or insurance for remedial work following an disaster. Just out of interest how did you arrive at a value for the more valuable pieces of the collection?

    One of the archivists I spoke to pointed out how lucky we are to be part of a larger organisation with resources (including staff dedicated to buildings management), that we can call on in the event of any disaster……much luckier than archivists who work on their own.

    I can only hope we don’t have to deal with disasters, but it’s good to know the necessary resources are in place if it does happen!

  3. You both are well ahead of us in this department, while this is definitely on our to-do list. In Ontario we belong to the Province’s archival association which has a disaster response team:

    http://aao-archivists.ca/services/preservation-consultant/archives-emergency-response-network

    Horror stories from other archives who have had to call on this service really strike fear in the heart of the archivist.

    I was speaking about evaluations of items to another Archivist last year and she mentioned that at one time she had all the items appraised for their value by another company before approaching her insurers for coverage. I think the main issue with insurance is coming up with a cost estimate for either replacement or restoration (in our case of course, restoration if possible) – so you would have to factor in the cost of that service to potentially damaged items.

    I’m emailing you all an article related to libraries – but mentions rare books, newspapers etc

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