Practice makes Perfect: Conducting a Tabletop Exercise to Practice your Disaster Plan

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Writing a disaster plan is a great step towards improving your cultural heritage institution’s response to a disaster, but practicing your disaster plan is a crucial part of ensuring everyone involved is prepared to execute the plan in a disaster. A tabletop exercise, where plan stakeholders verbally walk through executing the plan in a hypothetical disaster scenario, can help institutions practice their plan in a low-stress, low-stakes environment. After the exercise, the institution improves their plan and can respond more effectively in a real disaster. Tabletop exercises are common in the emergency management field, but not used as frequently by cultural heritage institutions, so this session aims to provide cultural heritage professionals with the background and tools you need to run your own tabletop exercise. The session will cover more details of what a tabletop exercise is, how to plan and run a tabletop exercise, and how it can improve your institution’s disaster plan.

This class will be helpful to people working in libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, or other cultural heritage institutions, who have some responsibility for disaster planning and preparedness in their organization. Some prior knowledge of the basics of disaster planning for cultural heritage institutions will be helpful.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the session, participants should be able to:

Define what a tabletop exercise is and how it could benefit their institution
Plan and lead a tabletop exercise at their institution

Instructor: Annie Peterson

Annie Peterson (she/her) is a Program Leader at LYRASIS. She coordinates LYRASIS Learning and teaches classes on preservation, digitization, and other topics related to cultural heritage institutions. Before joining LYRASIS, Annie Peterson was the Preservation Librarian for the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University. Previously, she was an IMLS Preservation Administration Fellow at Yale University, where her primary focus was writing a disaster plan for the library’s high density storage facility. Her background in library and archives preservation provides a strong basis for assisting LYRASIS members with their preservation and digitization projects. She has an MLIS from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In 2016 Annie was awarded the Esther J. Piercy Award from ALCTS, an award that is given to recognize the contribution to areas of librarianship included in library collections and technical service by a librarian who has shown outstanding promise for continuing contribution and leadership.

State library and/or archives agency; Public library; Academic library: 4 year and graduate; Special Library; Museum; Academic library: 2 year; Archives; Historical Society / Site; Special collections
This webinar is presented in Eastern time.

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