Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2nd Regional Summit brings Cultural Heritage Institutions and Emergency Management Together

Submitted by Martzahl, Veronica, Records Archivist, Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University

On Friday, March 23, 2012 representatives of multiple Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness (COSTEP) groups in New England had the opportunity to meet with each other and with representatives of both state and federal emergency management agencies. This summit, the second of its kind, was held in conjunction with the New England Archivists Spring Conference (the first summit was held in conjunction with the NEMA conference last fall).

Representatives from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island were able to share their experiences of reaching out to local cultural heritage institutions at the local level and provide each other with tips and advice regarding their most successful approaches to increasing disaster preparedness amongst this constituency. COSTEP CT has been focusing on collections care and assessment, and will be conducting a workshop at an upcoming Connecticut Library Association meeting. In Massachusetts, COSTEP had been awarded a grant from FEMA to conduct a series of local meetings about hazard mitigation, conduct multiple risk assessment workshops, and work with Regional Planning Agencies to raise awareness of cultural institutions in the process for planning for and mitigating of disasters. COSTEP RI is focusing on a series of trainings in conjunction with the Northeast Document Conservation Center covering disaster planning and preparedness as well as wet book recovery. 

FEMA representatives were available to answer questions, particularly around federal grant money that is available after a disaster declaration for mitigation programs. Additionally, the group heard from special guest Fiona Macalister, a Winston Churchill Traveling Fellow, who is researching various aspects of disaster recovery. Ms. Macalister provided the group with her insights on disaster preparedness from an international perspective.

Each of the COSTEP organizations is actively seeking participants. If you would be interested in getting involved, or if you are just interested in learning more, please contact BJ Larson at 781-641-0013 or bj.larson@nemanet.org and she will direct you to the appropriate state contact.