IR Search FormCall Number LabelsDigital Project SupportResourcesSupply RequestsWhom to Call WhenMusic acquisitions and gifts
Bindery Knot InstructionsBook Damage Reference GuideTraining PDFsTraining Videos
GuidelinesInsectsMoldReact PaksWet MaterialsDisaster TeamDisaster Preparedness during Construction
This is the "Guidelines" page of the "Curation and Preservation Services" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Curation and Preservation Services  

Last Updated: Sep 4, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Guidelines Print Page

Disaster Response Guidelines

Reporting an Emergency | Reporting a Problem | Disaster Response | Recovery of Collections | FAQ | Contact Numbers | Related MIT Links


Dial 100 from a Campus Phone
for emergencies/police/medical/ambulance/ fire/explosion/bomb threats/laboratory spills

If calling from a cell phone or other non-campus phone: 617-253-1212

Personal safety should be your first concern in any emergency situation



  1. Dial the MIT Operations Center, 617-253-4948 (3-4948 = FIXIT), from a safe location.  The Center will create a work order for you.  The Center will notify the appropriate Facilities staff who will assess the situation and then assist with clean-up and remediation of the building.

  2. If library collections are affected, call the Wunsch Conservation Laboratory at 253-5282 (M-F, 9am-5pm). If after hours, proceed to Step 3. 

  3. If after 5pm or before 9am, call the emergency contact listed on your departmental phone tree. S/he will have access to home phone numbers for Disaster Response Team members.

  4. Proceed to Disaster Response.

back to the top



Small Leak Large Leak Fire

Small leak:
i.e., leaky pipe, water cooler, or other clean water slowly accumulating near or over collections.  No more than one bay of books (150-200) is affected.

  1. Follow the steps for Reporting a Problem.

  2. Stop the source of the leak, if safe to do so. 

  3. Open your facility’s React Pak (disaster response kit).

  4. Cover the stacks with plastic sheeting to protect collections from further damage.  Collect dripping water in trash cans or buckets.  See Supplies below.

  5. Cover computers and other electronic equipment with plastic sheeting.

  6. Move books and other library materials to a dry, secure area.  Library materials can be fragile and heavy when wet.  Use two hands and handle only one or two items at a time.  Books on the shelf may appear dry but have water behind or under them, so check carefully. 

  7. If possible, cool the air by turning on the air conditioning or turning off the heat.  Warm temperatures may facilitate mold growth.

  8. Run fans and dehumidifiers to reduce humidity.  Humid, still air may accelerate mold growth.
  9. If advised by the Disaster Response Team or CPS, proceed with Recovery of Collections.

Large leak or flood, or if the source of water is contaminated or unknown:
i.e., burst pipe. More than one bay of books (150-200) is affected.

  1. Follow the steps for Reporting a Problem.
  2. If you know the source of the water, inform Facilities and Preservation personnel.  If the water is classified as black or gray water, extra safety precautions are required. 
  3. Do not enter the area until Facilities and/or emergency personnel have given permission to do so. Be wary of potential electrical hazards.
  4. Members of the Disaster Response Team or CPS will arrange for a vendor to handle the damaged books.
  5. If advised by the Disaster Response Team or CPS, proceed with Recovery of Collections.


  1. Follow the steps for Reporting an Emergency and Reporting a Problem.

  2. Once the fire marshal declares the affected area safe for reentry, the Disaster Response Team or CPS staff will help assess collections damage and determine if a vendor is required to facilitate recovery.

  3. During a fire, library materials may suffer from a combination of smoke, soot, burns, and water damage. If recovery will be carried out in-house, the Disaster Response Team or CPS will oversee the initial sorting and recovery of library materials.

  4. If advised by the Disaster Response Team or CPS, proceed with Recovery of Collections.

back to the top



Supplies | Books and Paper-Based Materials | Non-Print Media


Recovery supplies are stored in your facility’s React Pak. Curation and Preservation Services can provide access to additional supplies, fans, and plastic sheeting from its storage area, 14-0315A.  (MIT Police can provide access after-hours.)  Facilities will provide equipment for large scale drying of rooms (e.g. floor fans).

Books, Journals, Documents and other Paper-Based Materials:

  1. Follow these steps when advised by the Disaster Response Team or CPS.

  2. If more than one bay of books (150-200) is affected, or if books are completely soaked through, wait for a member of the Disaster Response Team or CPS to arrive and assist with the next step, which is likely to involve the use of a vendor's services.

  3. For less than one bay of books, separate wet from dry items.

  4. Separate wet volumes printed on coated, glossy paper (journals, art magazines, etc.) from those printed on matte paper. Wait for a member of the Disaster Response Team or CPS to arrive and assist with wet books printed on coated, glossy paper.  Wet coated paper can “block” (stick together) if allowed to air dry.

  5. Stand partially-wet books with matte paper on end and fan out their pages to facilitate air-drying. Interleave particularly wet pages with unprinted newsprint (available in the Wunsch Lab, 14-0513), placing sheets between groups of pages, to help wick moisture away. Preservation staff will oversee the final stage of drying and flattening.

  6. Items that are soaked, have coated paper, or are too fragile to stand upright will need to be dried in the Wunsch Conservation Lab. 

Non-print Media:

  1. Follow these steps when advised by the Disaster Response Team or Curation and Preservation Services.

  2. For photographs and negatives, wait for a member of the Disaster Response Team or CPS to arrive and assist with the next step.

  3. Handle audio-visual material carefully to avoid scratching the surfaces.  Do NOT unwind reels or disassemble floppy discs or tape cartridges.

  4. Separate paper inserts from audio-visual media and treat as described under Books.

  5. If clean water is available, gently rinse media. 

  6. Lay items flat to dry.  Microfiche and slides can also be hung from a line with a plastic clip.

  7. The following media items can remain WET for several days, so they are lower priority: microfilm, computer tapes, most audio and video tapes, and motion picture film.  Place these items in containers with clean water or in plastic bags and notify the Disaster Response Team and Preservation staff of their location.

  8. Tapes with "ME or "MP" on the case should be rinsed and set out to dry immediately.

back to the top



For what materials does Curation and Preservation Services provide disaster recovery? 

  • MIT Libraries collections
  • MIT Libraries employees’ desk files and papers
  • Case-by-case basis: MIT employees’ office materials

What should I do if a patron returns wet books or spills liquid on books in the library?
Follow the instructions in the Wet Book Kit at your nearest Service Desk. 

What is my role in disaster response
Library staff has responsibility for immediate disaster response.  Your role includes following the guidelines on this web site if library collections are in danger.  Especially, contact Curation and Preservation Services (daytime) or the Disaster Response Team (after hours) so that they may respond. 

If there is a disaster in my facility, who has primary responsibility for the recovery of collections materials?
Curation and Preservation Services has primary responsibility for assessing the collections, determining recovery procedures, and carrying out recovery. Curation and Preservation Services may lead library staff in the recovery effort.

What is my role in disaster recovery
The Disaster Response Team and CPS will need your help to identify the collections which are the highest priority for recovery.  Library staff also has responsibility for bibliographic control and record-keeping for materials that are shifted or sent to a vendor for salvage. 

In a water disaster, response within 48-72 hours is important to minimize mold growth.  If a large number of collections are damaged, the Disaster Response Team and  CPS will need help to recover materials within this critical time frame, so your assistance may be requested. In this situation, Team members or CPS staff would show you what to do and would coordinate with supervisors to manage the workflow and staffing.

back to the top



MIT Operations Center
Call Operations at 617-253-4948 to report a problem, to follow up on a work order, or to get updates.

Curation and Preservation Services and Wunsch Conservation Laboratory
During work hours (M-F, 9-5), 617-253-5282

For After Hours contact numbers, call the emergency contact person for your facility, who will have access to home phone numbers for Disaster Response Team members

back to the top



MIT EHS – Emergency Response Guide

MIT Medical Service – Urgent or Emergency Care

MIT Campus Police Department

MIT IS&T Security Support Team

MIT Libraries – Facilities reporting procedures for public spaces

back to the top

Image of fire by Tom Adamson
Image of water by Cayusa

Print Disaster Response Guidelines

Staff Web | MIT Libraries | MIT

Powered by Springshare. Text licensed under Creative Commons, unless otherwise noted. All other media all rights reserved unless otherwise noted.


Loading  Loading...