International Foundation
for Cultural Property Protection

  • July 19, 2016 7:09 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    By Peggy Schaller
    [reprinted from the Northern States Conservation Center Collections Caretaker eNewsletter - July 2016]

    In order to provide interesting and educational exhibits for your visitors and protect your collections and visitors, consider the following elements when planning and executing your exhibitions:

    Exhibit furniture

    Use exhibit furniture and materials that are safe for your collection items. Traditional wooden exhibit cases, particularly oak, are generally used in museums because they look nice. However, without being properly sealed these cases can actually be harmful to the objects you display in them. Wood gives off harmful acidic gasses that can increase the aging properties of many collection materials and oak is the worst of all. Be sure to place a protective barrier between your objects and the wooden floor of the case. Use a barrier material that will block the migration of the acids from the wood such as Polyester sheeting, Marvelseal, or aluminum foil. The wood can also be sealed using a moisture-cured polyurethane or latex paint, but these products must be allowed to dry completely and finish curing before artifacts are placed in the case. This process may take up to 3 to 4 weeks. Better choices for exhibition cases are powder-coated metal and glass cases or sealed wood bases with Plexiglas vitrines. Fabrics used in exhibition cases should be inert and un-dyed: polyester, cotton, linen, or a polyester-cotton blend. If you must use a colored fabric for esthetic reasons, test it for color fastness before using it. You do not want your exhibit fabric to bleed onto your objects if the humidity rises or there is a water incident. Artifact mounts should be made of safe materials and should properly support your objects. Mounts should be padded so as not to scratch or rub your objects. Metal mounts can scratch and corrosion can stain objects if they are not protected by polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene tubing or other inert padding. Plexiglas can be used for mounts; be sure the cut edges are polished so they are no longer rough. Fabric or Tyvek covered polyethylene foam blocks or Backer rods can be fashioned into mounts for storage and exhibition.

    Case Lighting

    In-case lighting can raise the ambient temperature inside the case and lower the relative humidity such that your artifacts are affected to their detriment. Close-in lighting like this can also increase fading of artifacts like textiles and paper-based items. Florescent lighting must be filtered, inside or outside of the cases and incandescent lighting is extremely hot. Fiber optic lighting can be safely used inside a case as the heat source is away from the end of the light tube; however, the nearness and intensity of the light can still increase fading. Outside-the-case lighting is a better option if possible, but remember to filter for UV and limit the length and intensity of the exposure for optimal collection care. LED lights are now available for museum applications and can be a good choice.

    Traffic Patterns

    Plan an open traffic pattern for your exhibits. Make sure that there is enough room in the gallery for visitors to comfortably navigate around the exhibits and cases. Refer to the Americans with Disabilities Act for the proper path width so that disabled visitors in wheelchairs can negotiate your galleries. Always plan with ADA compliance in mind and make sure the exhibition cases are not too tall for children and people in wheelchairs; that wall cases and other design elements are not hazards for blind or limited vision visitors; and that your labels are readable by all visitors in terms of mounting height, print size; color combinations and location. Making the space around your cases wide enough to comply with ADA regulations will not only make the exhibit more enjoyable for all your visitors, it will make it less likely that the cases will be accidentally bumped because of close quarters. Bumped cases can cause artifact damage.

    Security for exhibition galleries

    Exhibit security is a very important element of any exhibition. Your exhibit cases must have good locks that are not easy to open. Alarmed cases are better if you have the funds to manage it. Open exhibits should be monitored closely and/or have perimeter alarms to alert staff when visitors get too close or attempt to remove items from the exhibit. They should also have a barrier to keep visitors from entering the area--stanchions are good; Plexiglas or other solid barriers are better. You might be surprised what visitors will do even when there is a barrier blocking their way! Watch out for the parent who lifts their child over the barrier to pet the buffalo, Mountain lion (big kitty) or touch an artifact! This is not only detrimental to the artifact, but can be dangerous for the child (ex. arsenic in animal mounts). Beyond the physical security of barriers, locks and alarms, and cameras, there is a simple and effective way of keeping your exhibition galleries safe. Even if you do not have the funds to have a full time security staff, your regular staff can take 'walkabouts' at irregular intervals around the galleries to survey what is happening. Walk around the museum and engage your visitors by asking if they are enjoying themselves and ask if they have any questions. An engaged and happy visitor is less likely to mess about with your collection than a visitor who thinks no one is watching.

    Reprinted from Collections Research News Winter 2012-2013 from Collections Research for Museums.

    More about Safe and Secure Exhibition Practices can be found in the following courses offered by Northern States Conservation Center's

    MS 107: Introduction to Museum Security, August 1 to 26, 2016

    Instructor: Stevan Layne

    MS 233: Matting and Framing, August 1 to 26, 2016

    Instructor: Tom Bennett

    MS 204: Materials for Storage and Display,September 5 to 30, 2016

    Instructor:  Helen Alten

    Also check out our other upcoming courses below or at

    Peggy Schaller founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging, collection-management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. She teaches several courses for MS103 The Basics of Museum Registration; MS207 Collections Management: Cataloging your Collection; MS267 Museum Ethics; MS218 Collection Inventories and MS007 The Museum Mission Statement: Is it Really That Important? 

  • July 11, 2016 3:46 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    Since its launch just a few short days ago, Pokémon Go has created quite a stir. Not only is it one of, if not the fastest, downloaded games in app history, which is a success for its creators, it has created a lot of discussion throughout the business world regarding access. As one of the properties where the characters reside, we have seen a 200% increase in activity on our trails after dark since the games release. During the day, people of all ages have been seen standing in the middle of bushes “acting odd” and unfortunately, walking through flower beds and areas cultivated specifically to attract butterflies. While these few behaviors outside might be considered exciting by some, as they are bringing people to the property, our landscape and maintenance teams do not have the same feeling on the subject.

    Thankfully we haven’t had anyone fall into a ravine, or walk off into one of the ponds, which has occurred elsewhere in the three countries where the game has first been released. We have experienced people walking into walls and almost falling down interior stairs (head down looking at their phone) including adults, not just kids, as one might expect - grownups running through the galleries trying to beat a friend to the next location.

    I’m not against anyone having fun, or the developers of these games from making money, this is America and free enterprise builds our economy.  My concern is that with every good thing there are those who will utilize it for evil. Not just trampled flowerbeds, but true criminal and even terroristic activity.

    What do I mean? We have spent decades training security personnel to patrol and observe by exception (i.e. if it looks out of place than it most likely is and should be addressed). I spent a full day just last week with Homeland Security looking at their new training program regarding workplace violence and active shooter. Guess what, one of the key aspects noted was to train staff to be aware of “odd” behavior and report it. The standard “See Something, Say Something” approach. How does this fit into the behaviors associated with AR Games?  Do I have my exterior officers approach everyone standing off in the grass, or in the bushes making hand gestures on their phone?

    This activity is also quite distressing from a surveillance awareness standpoint. Are they here acting strange because they are looking for Pokémon, or are they just pretending so they can surveil the exterior aspects of my facility, how many staff are scheduled, etc. One key aspect of training staff to be aware of this type of surveillance is the frequency with which the person is seen. With the advent of the AR Games, seeing the same person on the property becomes a common issue. I’ve been able to determine that we have over 30 of the Pokémon characters located on our property. It will not be uncommon for my exterior team and interior security staff for that matter to see the same faces multiple days while they try and “capture” them all. As we do not charge admission to access our general galleries, it makes it easy for them to return time and time again. Phone in hand walking all around, stopping in front of doors and hallways. This type of behavior would have been deemed very suspicious and addressed prior to the games release. Now it will become common behavior and staff may simply ignore the activity.

    To take this a step further, let’s say you’re responsible for critical infrastructure, such as a security director for a power plant. One of these characters is placed just outside your gate. The first few times someone comes up and attempts to “capture” it.  Your officers ask them politely to leave, but they argue with your staff concerning the game, etc. Human nature being what it is, after the 150th person comes up to the gate to “play the game”, the officers have now become so accustomed to this behavior it isn’t considered “odd” any longer. Who from that group of 150 was playing the game and who was checking out your security, access points etc.? It’s impossible to tell.

    Let’s move to the mall, people walking all around with phone in hand looking to “capture” Pokémon. Seams innocent enough, after all it’s just a game isn’t it? How about the one person, or team of people “playing the game” who are actually surveying the scene and activities of others as they plan their criminal enterprise.    

    If I were planning to rob a bank, I would place a Pokémon character right inside near the counter, so I could check on the daily routine of everyone inside. Yes, that’s possible once you have gained a high enough level within the game, you can place them where you wish, not to mention the hackers who have already demonstrated they can access the game for their own personal reward.

    This is just the first of many AR type games that we will see in the coming years. As long as they are profitable for the creators, we will continue to deal with the issues associated with them.

    Let’s keep the discussion going, stay open minded, and share ideas regarding training, observational skills, and ways in which we can provide safe environments for staff and guests, while meeting the security needs of the same.

    Geoff Goodrich
    Director of Protection Services
    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
    Bentonville, Arkansas

  • June 28, 2016 10:27 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    We are very pleased to welcome aboard our newest team member, Tyler Freeman!  Tyler will be taking over LMS (Learning Management System) development, elevating IFCPP online certification and training to a new level.  Over the next few weeks, Mrs. Freeman will also be coordinating development of IFCPP’s newest customer service-centric certification program for line officers and frontline staff!  Stay tuned, you’ll be hearing much more from Tyler very soon…

  • June 28, 2016 6:20 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    By Mark C Peterson

    [reprinted from the ASIS Cultural Properties Council Newsletter - April 2016]

    For security professionals, it is a familiar image. A diligent system operator sitting in a dimly lit space, surrounded by the glow of technology. The radio crackles as the operator communicates in 10-code with patrolling security officers in response to a security event. The quintessential security control center (SCC). Sometimes referred to as the security operations center, or simply the control room, it is the recognized heartbeat of many comprehensive security programs. By definition, this widely deployed security element is often the center of control for security operations.

    Most commonly deployed within medium to large institutions, the SCC is often the element around which security operations revolve. The SCC may fill the command and control role within security operations. The definition of command and control in this application is to “provide direction of security resources for the protection of staff, visitors, and assets of the institution”. Operational direction by SCC operators should, or course, be given in accordance with the institution’s established policies and procedures. At a high level, SCC operators:

    Monitor electronic security systems to obtain situational awareness. Communicate with security staff/patrols in response to security events. Coordinate the assessment of, and response to, security events. Document security activities.

    • As electronic security systems (ESS) are deployed throughout the institution, the SCC has

    traditionally served as the centralized location for system monitoring and operation. This means that much of the investment in ESS can often be located within the SCC (Hey, we had to put that stuff somewhere.). The expanded use of networked, or IP-based, systems has largely removed many of the constraints of older technology that made it difficult, and costly, to monitor and operate ESS across multiple locations. The traditional paradigm of centralized monitoring is now being challenged by today’s state-of-the-art system capabilities to more easily distribute system monitoring and operation across multiple locations.With security operations, one size does not fit all. This also holds true with the role and operational expectation of the SCC. While they can be quite similar, each and every security organization is unique in its support of the institution’s unique environment and culture. So it is reasonable to assume that the role of the SCC can be different from institution to institution. How the role of the SCC may be different is less important than whether the role of the SCC is adequately defined. Only by defining the expectations of the SCC, within security operations, can its performance and effectiveness be properly evaluated. Regardless of the institution’s expectations of SCC operations, a few simple questions can help determine if the SCC is fulfilling operational expectations for predicable performance.

    Is there a documented statement describing the role of the SCC? The importance of documenting the role and operational expectations of the SCC cannot be overstated. SCC operations often occur behind the scenes. The organization, and executive management, does not always recognize the critical role that the SCC plays in securing the facility. As important, the organization does not always have an accurate expectation of SCC capabilities. Sometimes, inaccurate assumptions do not become apparent until a serious security incident is experienced. It is then that questions are asked like “Why wasn’t the incident identified on camera?”, or “Why didn’t the operator alert security patrols in time to prevent the incident from happening?”. Let’s face it, every SCC deployment has operational constraints and deficiencies. It is best to proactively understand and address these within the organization before they bubble up as the result of a serious security incident.

    Do the SCC operator duties support the operational expectations of the SCC? The role of the SCC operator is one of the most critical positions within the security organization. However, in so many cases, duties are assigned to SCC operators that are in direct conflict with their ability to monitor and respond to security events. SCC operators are often tasked with:

    • Managing access control for contractors, visitors, and/or deliveries. Issuing visitor passes and temporary access badges. Issuing radios and other security equipment to officers. Issuing and managing staff keys.
    • Answering the institute’s general phone line to answer questions and provide directions. Manage lost and found.

    In many cases, these additional duties are assigned because the operational policies and procedures for SCC operators to actively communicate and engage with security officers and patrols are not adequately defined. From management’s point of view, SCC operators appear to have time on their hands, making them targets for other duties.

    Are the SCC policies and procedures relevant to the current ESS configuration? As previously discussed, state-of-the-art networked ESS provides security with enhanced operational features. If, and when, institutions are fortunate enough to be able to invest in system upgrades and/or replacement, the configuration of the SCC should change accordingly. It is not uncommon to see institutions spend significant capital dollars for the latest technology only to use them according to outdated policies and procedures. System upgrades and/or replacements are opportunities to reinvent security operations; increasing operational effectiveness and efficiencies.

    Is the configuration of the SCC conducive to effective system monitoring and operation?

    The SCC environment must enable effective operator operations. In many cases the SCC is a 24/7/365 operation. The environment should support a comfortable and operationally efficient environment. Adequate temperature control and lighting are important for operator comfort. The layout of equipment is essential to effective SCC operations. The position of the operator in relation to user interface devices (monitors, keyboards, mouse, etc.) affects their ability to more easily manipulate systems. What is the expectation of operator performance in an environment where scores of video images are simultaneously displayed? While it may look impressive, overloading the operator with video images may actually reduce their ability to identify activity of interest. The strategy for the configuration of video monitors must be in line with the performance expectations for the SCC operators.

    Who has access to the SCC? Due to the critical role of SCC, and the level of vigilance required for SCC operator duties, unnecessary distractions should be eliminated. That being said, there are many SCCs where security, and in some cases, non-security personnel freely enter the SCC. Even when fitted with access control, many of the institution’s staff have access privileges that include access into the SCC. SCC operations are very focused and time sensitive. Each and every access into the SCC creates the potential for distraction from identifying an important security events, or delay the assessment or response to an event. In most cases, the

    only persons that should be allowed to access the SCC are those security staff actively engaged in SCC operations, and their supervisors.

    As I like to say, “It is always enough security until it isn’t”. It is difficult to quantify the effectiveness of security within an institution or to know just how many security incidents were prevented, or their impact minimized, as a result of security operations. The role of the SCC is not always apparent and, as a result, may fall victim to unnecessary distractions, overloading of duties, and inadequate policies and procedures. Ironically, when faced with a security event, the organization’s expectation for SCC operations is to spring into action, ninja style, to prevent or neutralize the security threat. While the critical role of the SCC is beyond dispute, it is not uncommon to find its effectiveness being undermined; even to the point of losing control.

    Mark C Peterson is founder and principal consultant at M. C. Peterson & Associates, LLC, senior design consultant for Layne Consultants International, Inc, and Technology Advisor for the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection. Mark is a 35 year veteran of the security industry with an emphasis in design, implementation, and operation of electronic security systems.

  • June 15, 2016 9:55 AM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    By Peggy Schaller (reprinted from the Northern States Conservation Center's Collections Caretaker eNewsletter)

    What exactly is collections stewardship and how does it affect you? According to the AAM Standards Regarding Collection Stewardship, collections "Stewardship is the careful, sound and responsible management of that which is entrusted to a museum's care."

    All museums, whether they are active collecting institutions, non-collecting institutions or somewhere in-between, have collections of one kind or another because we all use 'things' to tell our story. These 'things' can take many forms. They can be works of art, historical/ethnographic objects, natural history specimens, live plants or animals, historic properties or interactive, hands-on exhibit objects. They can be owned by the institution or on loan from another source, but all should relate to and enhance the museum's mission.

    The "careful, sound and responsible management" of these collections can be roughly divided into two main categories. The first is physical management. This includes providing an appropriate environment for the storage and exhibition of collections in our care and for the transportation of collections within and outside our institutions; providing physical security for collections in storage, on exhibit or moving through the institution or to/from another location; providing written procedures and proper training for monitoring, handling and care of collections; periodic inventories and designated storage/exhibit locations for collections; and addressing collections in disaster plans and drills. The second category is intellectual management. This involves the documentation of collections by accessioning, cataloging and documenting appropriateness to the museum's mission; established policies and procedures which outline the museum's responsibilities to the collections, reasons for acquiring them and appropriate uses for them; consistent record keeping and records management; and adherence to ethical, legal and moral obligations to the public trust surrounding our collections and the public benefit derived from them.

    All these things make good collections stewardship the responsibility of every person involved in the successful day-to-day operation of our institutions. It is the primary mission of all museums and cultural institutions to preserve collections for present and future generations, but also to make these 'things' available and accessible for the enjoyment and education of these same individuals. The balancing act of preservation versus accessibility is the essence of collections stewardship.

    AAM's Standards Regarding Collections Stewardship contains specific guidance and standards for museums to strive for in the management of their collections and can be found at:

    Reprinted from Collections Research News, Fall 2001.

    Peggy Schaller founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging, collection-management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. She teaches several courses for MS103 The Basics of Museum Registration; MS207 Collections Management: Cataloging your Collection; MS267 Museum Ethics; MS218 Collection Inventories and MS007 The Museum Mission Statement: Is it Really That Important?

  • June 14, 2016 6:53 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    by Marshall Goldsmith

    Have you ever worked with someone who incessantly whined about how unfair things are, how bad, how wrong or how irrational? When people constantly whine and complain, they inhibit any chance they have for impacting the future. Their managers view them as annoying, and their direct reports and co-workers view them as inept.

    Nobody wins.

    In the words of the late Peter Drucker, Every decision that impacts our lives will be made by the person who has the power to make that decision – not the ‘right’ person, or the ‘smartest’ person, or the ‘best’ person – make peace with this fact.”

    As simple and obvious as this statement may seem, I am amazed at how few (otherwise intelligent) people ever deeply ‘get’ this point. When your child comes home from school and complains, It’s not fair! The teacher gave me a ‘C’ and I really deserved an ‘A’! We, as parents, should say, Welcome to the real world, kid! In life you have to accept the fact that decision-makers make decisions – and that you are not always the decision maker.” We will always have bosses, teaches, analysts or Boards who give us ‘grades’ that we disagree with.

    What can you change, and what is beyond your control?

    On the surface, acceptance—that is, changing what we can change and being realistic about what we cannot change in our lives—should be the easiest thing to do. After all, how hard is it to resign yourself to the reality of a situation?

    You assess it, take a deep breath (perhaps releasing a tiny sigh of regret), and accept it. And yet acceptance is often one of our greatest challenges. Rather than accept that their manager has authority over their work, some employees constantly fight with their bosses (a strategy that rarely ends well).

    Rather than deal with the disappointment of getting passed over for a promotion, they’ll whine that It’s not fair!” to anyone who’ll listen (a strategy that rarely enhances their image among their peers or gets them that promotion).

    Rather than take a business setback in stride, they’ll hunt for scapegoats, laying blame on everyone but themselves (a strategy that rarely teaches them how to avoid future setbacks).

    When enthusiasm fades, the initial cause is often failure to accept what is and get on with life.

    A few years ago, a reporter at the Chicago Tribune asked me if managers today are more abusive than any time in history (a logical question in a discussion of executive behavior).

    Are you kidding me?” I said. We still have many inequities and bad bosses, but life is much better than it was two hundred years ago. We used to have Kings, minimal worker rights, and human beings who were ‘owned’ and had no rights at all. In the developed world it can be bad today, but human beings are making some progress.”

    We’ve come a long way. Most major companies now believe in certain inalienable rights” at work. We have the right to be treated with respect. We have the right to be judged by our performance and character rather than by a fluke of lucky birth. If we’re women, we have the right to be paid as much as a man for doing the same job. When inequities such as these arise, they’re worth arguing over. These are the battles that we should be fighting.

    But a lot of small stuff remains. A colleague gets a promotion we thought we deserved. The boss showers a rival division with money, ignoring our area. We’re given a hiring freeze while others get every new person they ask for. This is the stuff that still makes us howl, It’s not fair!”

    Such “equity” moments resemble one another in one clear way: A decision has been made that we disagree with. What’s worse, we believe that we are not getting a good explanation—although that doesn’t stop us from re-asking, which is the same as arguing over it. And when we do get another explanation, it’s not good enough for us.

    Arguing that It’s not fair!” doesn’t change the outcome. It doesn’t help our organizations or our families or ourselves. It only lowers our passion. By recognizing this classic trap, we can better determine which battles to fight—and which ones to avoid. At work, and even more so at home, even if we succeed at winning with this whine, it’s not worth the cost.

    Once we make peace with the fact that the people who have the power to make the decisions always make the decisions – and we get over whining because ‘life isn’t fair’ – we can become more effective at influencing others, making a positive difference, and even become the person who makes the decisions!

    We can fight the battles that are really worth fighting, and quit bugging the world because, The teacher gave me a C!”

  • June 14, 2016 6:39 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    ASIS International sends its heartfelt condolences to the victims of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, as well as to their family members, friends, and the entire Orlando community. The massacre represents the latest reprehensible attack on innocent civilians.

    It is clear that terrorists and other attackers are now routinely targeting citizens where they play, where they shop, where they meet, and where they relax. The cumulative result is an attack on civilized society and values and on fundamental human dignity.

    In light of this trend, ASIS is making available free of charge many of its materials on active shooters and protecting soft targets--including white papers, articles, webinars, and book chapters--to communities, organizations, businesses, and government agencies. ASIS International is the leading association worldwide for professionals responsible for protecting people, property, and information.

    ASIS members, who include experts in all aspects of security in hundreds of chapters worldwide, are united in their commitment to protect their communities. ASIS members are available to provide advice and assistance to communities to prepare for and prevent these types of attacks.

    David C. Davis, CPP
2016 President, ASIS International

  • June 07, 2016 5:03 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    Lead Out…Lead On

    “Leaders tell but never teach until the practice what they preach”


    A survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation for Ajilon Finance asking folks to select the one trait the was most important for a person to lead them.

    Rank                                        Characteristic                                      Percentage

    1                                              Leading by Example                           26%

    2                                              Strong Ethics                                       19%

    3                                              Knowledge of the business                  17%

    4                                              Fair and Balanced                               14%

    5                                              Intelligent and competent                   13%

    6                                              Giving recognition                               10%

    Leadership is caught more than taught. We watch and learn from the actions of others.

    Reflect back on those who have Mentored or Lead you…what contrast do you see from the 6 in the list above…

    Followers may doubt what the leaders say, but actions always speak louder than words.

  • June 07, 2016 4:08 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    Brigham Young University Police Department proudly announces the retirement of Sgt. Mike Mock on 31 May 2016, completing a law enforcement career of 41 years.  Mike honorably served the department for 12 Years, including Security Supervision of BYU's Harold B. Lee Library ; and previously for 27 Years at Provo Police Department where he left with the rank of Captain.  Prior to these he started his law enforcement career as a Military Police Officer for the United States Army where he served for 2 years.  

    Congratulations from all of us at IFCPP, Mike!  We'll miss you, and wish you the very best in your retirement!

  • May 17, 2016 5:28 PM | Rob Layne (Administrator)

    By Peggy Schaller   

    Why can't we ignore this issue? Because it is not a matter of IF something may happen at your institution, it is a matter of WHEN and you need to be prepared. An emergency is an incident that happens in your institution that is handled well with policies, procedures and practiced plans. A disaster is an emergency that is not handled well. How do we prevent an emergency from becoming a disaster?

    First and foremost, have a plan. Not one that sits on the shelf in a huge binder that never gets looked at, but one that has been read and practiced by everyone in your facility--more than once! What should this plan include?

    Incident Command Structure: What is this? The incident command structure is a way for the institution to identify who is in charge during an emergency, in addition to other vital roles that need to be filled with at least a three deep backup for each. These roles include the Incident Commander--the person in charge of coordinating with first responders and staff; a Public Information Officer--the ONLY person that is permitted to talk with the press; Operations--those in charge of developing and executing the response; Planning and Logistics--what do you need and where and how do you get it; Financial/Administrative--the person or persons who have control over the money for needed supplies, services and salaries.

    Phone tree with current numbers: Make a list of current contact information for staff, volunteers, contractors, suppliers and board members. Include the best method for getting a hold of family members of staff and volunteers to let them know what is happening--if they are kept in the loop, they are less likely to tie up the phone lines needed for vital communications. Contractor and supplier contracts for recovery should be set up in advance with clear cut response and pricing built in.

    Emergency/Disaster Plan: What are your possible threats and how will/can they be prevented or managed? What are your assets--skill set questionnaires for staff, volunteers, and board members; the administrator may not be the one in charge during an emergency if he/she panics in such situations. What are the institutional responses to the identified threats--ex. what happens when someone slips and falls or when a fire starts or when someone calls in a bomb threat?

    Clear instructions for staff and visitors: What are the responsibilities of staff in evacuations or if you need to shelter in place. Do you have posted exit routes? Make sure staff understands the need for performing sweeps for stay behinds or injured persons. Do you have a plan for disabled persons assistance and/or safe areas where they can be taken to wait for assistance?

    Develop relationships with first responders: Invite the fire department and police/sheriff department to your facility to take a tour. Talk about their expectations in an emergency. Talk about your expectations in an emergency. Remember that life safety is everyone's priority--both the first responders and YOURS!

    Train, Train, Train: Practice the plan! Involve the first responders in your training. Run actual scenarios so that everyone knows how to respond to each. Evaluate the response--it will not go as planned. Use the failures to improve your plan. Run table top exercises as well as actual exercises.      

    Identify your most valuable collection assets: Once the emergency has been addressed and all persons are accounted for, first responders may (but are not required to) be able to assist with retrieval and protection of your priority collections.

    Business Continuity Planning: Plan for how you will get your institution up and running again--how will you pay the recovery bills and payroll? Identify and protect your vital documents with copies offsite in a safe, yet accessible, location.

    Collection Documentation: Keep copies of your ownership records and your collection documentation offsite in a safe, yet accessible, location. Be sure you have a current inventory of your collection and that the collection is insured. Both these will make it easier for the institution to qualify for FEMA assistance in regional disaster.

    Develop a relationship with your local Emergency Management Team: Make sure that your institution is 'on their radar' so you receive the help you need in a regional/local emergency.

    Develop relationships with other institutions in your area and create a mutual aid agreement so that you can help in their recovery or house their collections if something happens to them and they can do the same for you 

    Plan for the possibility that you may be on your own for as many as 72 hours during a widespread disaster.   With the proper planning and training you can prevent emergencies from becoming disasters and can survive widespread emergencies so that you can get back to doing what you do best--serving your constituency and protecting your collections.

    There is training available to help you put your plan together. Find a workshop or training course and take it.

    You do not have to keep your head in the sand but can stand tall and be prepared!    

    Reprinted from Collections Research News, Summer/Fall 2013.

    Peggy Schaller, founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging, collection-management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. Peggy, who lives in Denver, Colorado, has a bachelor's degree in anthropology with minors in art history and geology from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has a master's degree in anthropology with a minor in museum studies from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is a Certified Institutional Protection Manager II. She provides workshops and project services to museums and historical societies all across the country. The mission of Collections Research for Museums is to inspire museums to improve their professional standards, collections stewardship and service to their constituency through training in, and assistance with, documenting, preserving, protecting and managing their collections. For more information visit her web site  Collections Research for Museums. Peggy is also the Publications Manager, Certificate Program Coordinator, and Course Monitor for Northern States Conservation Center and


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