This is a book I read specifically because of our current pandemic. In my job I am responsible for much of the physical care of our historic collections and buildings and the response to COVID-19 is just as much an emergency/disaster response as any of the other things that make their ways into our plans. As I make updates to our Emergency Procedures and our Collections Care Policy and Procedures to reflect long term closures as well as reviewing our Disaster Plans, I began reading as many white papers and other scholarship as I could, as well as watching nearly two dozen webinars on this and surrounding subjects (there’s a reason I haven’t gotten much other reading done).
It should also be noted right off the top that this is *not* a book for the vast, vast majority of people. As it is, Building an Emergency Plan: A Guide for Museums and Other Cultural Institutions by Valerie Dorge isn’t even meant to be read in its entirety by most people who read it. It is, really, a collection of instructional chapters for different people in a response team – each person in charge of a section of the plan has their own chapter and are instructed to skip most of the others.
And, mostly that works. The beginning section has the “for everyone” information, the basic components of what makes up emergency planning and response. This is a foundational text in the field, and that means that it is twenty years old this year, and a lot of the examples and research are older, but the core concepts remain the same even if some of our tools have changed. In a book like this I think the important question is did I get what I needed? Do I feel more informed? I am able to answer yes to both questions and that is enough.