For emergency managers, some people are harder than others to reach. Sometimes, it’s because they aren’t that interested in being reached – tenured professors, for example. Sometimes, it is because we aren’t sure HOW to reach them – like the cultural institutions in your community. How does one open a dialogue with a library or museum about integrating them into a community emergency plan?
Here’s a book that will help: “Implementing the Incident Command System at the Institutional Level: A Handbook for Libraries, Archives, Museums and other Cultural Institutions”, by David L. Carmichael, the Director of the Georgia Division of Archives and History. His mission is to help cultural institutions use ICS to protect, preserve and recover the Picasso’s they find floating in the basement storage room – and all those other archives and treasures that make up our cultural heritage.
I write quite a few book reviews for the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (in exchange for a free copy of the book – great way to increase your library!), but this one is a favorite. It is easy to read, nonthreatening, bereft of jargon and targeted to an audience that can sometimes seem somewhat mysterious.
Carmichael understands all that. He is a past president of the Council of State Archivists and has been very active in supporting this kind of emergency preparedness. In 2007, after Katrina and Rita, he led the effort to publish a well-known report that assessed state-by-state their archive’s ability to protect their records. That report, Safeguarding a Nation’s Identity, was widely distributed. The title page describes it as examining “The readiness of state archive to protect the records that identify who we are, secure our rights, and tell our story as a nation.” It opened a whole new level of discussions and interest on a national level for preserving cultural records and artifacts during a disaster.
Personally, I like that this book is poetic – something one doesn’t generally associate with ICS. Carmichael describes it like this: “The ICS is a circle that has no specific starting or ending point. It is difficult to appreciate its shape until you’ve been around it one time.” How lyrical is that?
I also like that it is a real library book: hardback, glossy, library binding – the kind of book you could have just pulled out of the stacks. And while “the library stacks” might not be a term familiar to some of your community, it is definitely key to communicating with this audience. They will appreciate the formality of a 'real' book. Why? It’s part of the mystery. :-)
Yeah, it is kind of expensive - $47 at this link (don’t look for it on Amazon – they have it listed for over $200!) But it is also timeless. ICS isn’t going to change that much. This book will be as relevant in the next few years as it is now.
So, I’m suggesting you go buy a couple copies and give them to your libraries and museums to start the conversation. I mean – who wouldn’t want to save something like a Picasso?
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