Disaster management approaches for libraries in India

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The present paper highlights the disaster and its management in general and in libraries in electronic age. The paper also suggested the management methods of disaster in libraries. Libraries are the custodian of our history, culture and civilization. They are keeping the heritage of the nation in safe for last thousands of years. The safeguard against disaster for the libraries is very important. Safeguard should be in such planned ways that save the resources of library without any damage. In India libraries are not concentrating on disaster management due to unawareness and paucity of funds. Libraries and reputed Information Centres should organise program on disaster management in libraries. There should be training and workshop program for library personnel as well as for library users. Library and managing authority should make necessary arrangement for the effective program of disaster management in libraries. Disaster management program should be implemented from the initial stage (from the construction of building for any organisation).

Key-Words: Disaster, Disaster Management, Natural Disaster, Man-Made Disaster,

Disaster Management – Libraries, Artificial Disaster

1. Introduction:

Now libraries of India transforming themselves from traditional library to modern library or we may say automated, electronic, digital, virtual or hybrid libraries. With the development of technology changes, the development of adversity also increased. Adversity or disaster may be natural an artificial also. Disaster and its management (Disaster Management) now becomes the burning topic in many field due to natural disaster as cyclone, tornado, earthquake, fire due to heavy rain, water flood etc. and artificial disaster as power grid failure, network failure, fire, server fail, short -circuit etc. In libraries, authorities and libraries are not giving their attention for management of any kind of disaster. In India except some advance libraries, most of libraries have no prearrangement for disaster. Libraries have our history. Civilization and culture in books and in electronic form, if any disaster occurred they will lose valuable history, Civilization and culture.

2. Disaster

Disaster is an unexpected, disastrous happening carrying excessive mutilation, damage, and destruction and devastation to life and property. The mutilation caused by disasters is incalculable and differs with the topographical location, climate and the type of the earth surface/degree of susceptibility. These effects may be mental, socio-economic, political and cultural state of the affected area. Disaster may be men made (Artificial) and natural. Some definition of disaster as follow:

An occurrence causing widespread destruction and distress; a catastrophe.” Emergency “A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action[1].” (American Heritage Dictionary. 3 rd. ed., 1996)

In contemporary academia, disasters are seen as the effect of hazards on vulnerable areas. Hazards that occur in areas with low vulnerability do not result in a disaster; as is the case in uninhabited regions. (Quarantelli 1998)[2].

A disaster is a natural or man-made (or technological) hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment. A disaster can be extensively defined as any tragic event stemming from events such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions. It is a phenomenon that can cause damage to life and property and destroy the economic, social and cultural life of people.[3]

2.1 Natural Disaster

A natural disaster is an implication when a natural danger touches creatures and/or the built atmosphere. The resulting damage is governed by on the capacity of the population to support or fight the disaster: their resilience. This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: "disasters occur when hazards meet defencelessness". A natural danger will hereafter never result in a natural disaster in areas without exposure. Numerous singularities like, landslides, earthquakes, eruptions, volcanic, cyclones and floods are all natural hazards that kill thousands of people and destroy moneys of territory and goods every time. Followings are the main natural disasters:

  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Cyclones
  • Biological agents (micro-organisms, insect or vermin infestation)
  • Fires (wildfires)
  • Rain

2.2. Artificial (Men Made) Disaster

With the technological development the hazards also grows. Artificial disasters also can be caused by humans. Dangerous materials emergencies include chemical tumbles and groundwater pollution. Workplace fires (caused by short-circuit etc.) are more common and can originate substantial property mutilation and loss of life. Communities are also defenceless to these threats posed by fanatical groups who use ferocity against both people and property.

In Artificial disaster, targets may include military and civilian government facilities, international airports, high-profile landmarks and large cities. In Cyber-terrorism involves attacks against computers (server down, virus attack, hacking and unauthorised access etc.) and networks done to intimidate or pressure a government or its people for political or social objectives.

3. Disaster management

It is a discipline that includes making, holdup, and rebuilding society when natural or human-made disasters occur. In general, any Crisis management is the unceasing process by which all individuals, groups, and communities manage hazards in an effort to avoid or perfect the impact of disasters resulting from the hazards

‘Disaster management can be defined as the organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.[4]

4. Disaster in Libraries

Disaster either natural or manmade may occur in any organisation and at any place of the world. Its seriousness may be distinguished on preventive, pre-arrangement and other security methods. Now, libraries have entered in the age of electronic age but with the advent of technology in libraries, the technological (Artificial) disaster has also generated. Natural disaster like flooding, earthquake, cyclones, rain and Volcanic eruptions etc. are identical and not changed but going toward uncertainty due to global warming. Day to day man-made disaster as power cuts, network failure, cooling- heating, theft of books, network tower failure, conflict, noise, and violence may occur in libraries. Besides these, fire, sever failure, crashing of computer also are major disaster in libraries. Sometimes some misshaping may convert in major disaster in libraries.

5. Disaster Management in Libraries:

Libraries are our guardian or custodian of our history, culture and civilization. They are keeping these records in printed and non-printed document. Students, scholar expectation are also linked with libraries. So maintenance and security of libraries are essential from disaster etc.

In this concern Indian libraries (especially government and public libraries) frustrated us. Libraries are not so secured in this concern. Most of the libraries have not installed fire alarm system in their libraries. If installed, the maintenance of these systems is zero, only they became show peace. Libraries are also faces many day to day disaster like power-cuts (No having generators), no heating-cooling system etc. Libraries are information centre are also organising many workshop, conference and seminar of ICT but neglected the topic like disaster management in libraries[5]. This is ill-fated of Libraries as they are providing reading material (books, journals and encyclopaedias etc.) on disaster management to their users for research but for them, there is no such perpetual program in this concern. Funds are also a barrier in this concern as libraries not getting adequate funds for purchase books etc. and these disasters are the secondary phase for the libraries. I personally observed in many libraries that there was no such preventive equipment and measurement for this disaster (natural and man-made). Disaster controlling plan is a must be assimilated in preliminary planning of founding a library and information centre. Numerous minor pointers for a complete disaster management plan, which are independent of each other but are interwoven. Libraries either academic or public and authority (Government- Non-Government) should make the following provision in their libraries against disaster management:

Fruitful Plan: Each disaster has three phases: before, during and after. A variability of plans is required to manage with each of these phases. There should be fruitful plan for disaster management. Disaster plan must cover complete of the library and information centre including staff, readers, sources of information, equipment and infrastructure and it must be a cooperative team effort.

Mirror Server/ Backup: There should be arrangement of mirror server and daily backup of work should be taken on regular base by the competent library staff. Data backup should not kept in library and be placed at minimum two places. A responsible staff may take this backup with them. AMC of library server and UPC may be an alternative security measure for this.

Power Supply: There should be one main switch of light system of library and place to place MCV- Light controller should be installed in the library to avoid short-circuit in light system.

Responsibility: There should be fixation of responsibilities on staff and suitable should be identified and succession should be fixed in written and verbally. Suitable senior and junior staff should be incorporated in disaster planning.

Power-Cuts: There should be installation of Solar Power System and UPS to cater the the uninterrupted power supply. Sound proof power generator may be installed for this system.

Fire: Fire alarm system and smoke detector should be installed in library on each level so that any type of smoke and fire is detected. The staff training is essential to handle such system and should openings for staff to be alert of what is expected of them in the event of disaster. Library should identifying imperative parts of the building, collections, allocating rescue primacies, recognizing substitute storage sites, providing satisfactory fire protection.

Additional Funds Arrangement: There should be an additional fund arrangement to procure the preventive equipment and for making such disaster arrangement in libraries.

Rain- Floods: It is impartial as important to determine where the water is coming from and should to stop it at its cause as it is to cover up the books. There should be arrangement of water security out system around the library. The access of water should go in direct to down to earth.

User Awareness Program: There should be a user awareness program regarding the disaster management. This program may be included in user education/ orientation program of the library.

Workshop/Training and Conference: Time to time library and information centers should organize training and workshop program on disaster management in libraries.

Disaster Management Agency: Library and information centers may hire Disaster Management Agency for disaster management. Library may contract with such type of agency (Government and Private). There are many such types of agencies are available (online – offline) for disaster management.

6. Conclusion:

Now the range of disaster has increased, natural disaster is increasing due to global warming and artificial disasters (man-made) are increasing with the advent of Information Communication Technology. Pre-planning for disaster is very important as this management is inter-linked on each other. These planning should be implemented from the initial phase (from the point of construction of building of any organisation like libraries). Time to time mock drill should also implement for testing of the program. Maintenance of such procedure is also very important. Government, non-government and managing authorities should also pay more attention on this issue. Government should also make such positive policies for libraries and information regarding the implementation of disaster management.

Related Bibliography

  1. Aparac-Gazivoda, T. and Katalenac, D. (1993) Wounded libraries in Croatia, Zagreb: Croatian Library Association. Archives, Aldershot: Ashgate.
  2. Featherstone, Robin M., Lyon, Becky J, and Ruffin, Angela B. (2008).Librarian’s Role in Disaster Response: an Oral History Project. Journal of Medical Library Association, 96,256-282.doi 10.3163/1536-5050.96.4.009.
  3. Golrick, Michael A. (2009). Disaster management: Steps in the process. Retrieved from:http://michaelgolrick.blogspot.com/2009/03/disaster-management-plan-steps-in.html.
  4. Matthews, G. and Eden, P. (1996) Disaster management in British libraries. Project report with guidelines for library managers, London: The British Library.
  5. Matthews, Graham, & Eden, Paul. (1996) "Disaster management training in libraries", Library Review, Vol. 45 Iss: 1, pp.30 – 38
  6. Riedlmayer, A. (2007) ‘Crimes of war, crimes of peace: destruction of libraries during and after the Balkan wars of the 1990s’, Library Trends 1 (56), 107-132.


[1] American Heritage Dictionary. 3 rd. ed., 1996 Houghton Mifflin; 3 editions (August 20, 1992).

[2] Quarantelli E.L. (1998). Where We Have Been and Where We Might Go. In: Quarantelli E.L. (Ed). What Is A Disaster? London: Rutledge. pp146-159

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disaster

[4] 1International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Disaster Management. Accessed 12-12-13

[5] http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2204&context=libphilprac