In this week’s blog Project Conservator, Katharine Richardson, discusses the challenges she has faced while reviewing the CRC’s Disaster Plan….
For the last two months I have been reviewing the Disaster Response and Recovery Plan for the University of Edinburgh’s rare and unique collections. The plan covers twelve different collection sites across the University campus that contain a large number of diverse objects and materials, including archives, anatomical specimens and musical instruments.
One of the most challenging aspects of the project has been to identify each collection’s vulnerabilities and to anticipate the risks involved in moving and handling them during a disaster response operation. Some collection items have very specific handling requirements which must be recorded in the plan, such as the School of Scottish Studies Archive’s audio visual equipment that is so sensitive to movement that they can be damaged beyond repair from one slight knock. There are also certain collections that contain items hazardous to human health, one example being the geology collections, which contain specimens of mercury and asbestos. These, too, require specialist handling instructions and a record of what personal protective equipment (PPE) is required.