When presented with an emergency situation, an institution’s first priority must be the health and safety of its staff, volunteers, patrons, and visitors. Once their safety has been confirmed, staff can turn their attention to collections and other objects. Items that are important to the institution, either for monetary or historical reasons, should be identified before an emergency takes place. This means you will need to prioritize which objects to rescue first and list them, in order, in your emergency plan. This module will help you identify characteristics for prioritizing your institution’s most valuable and fragile objects. 

Setting Priorities webinar is presented by Lynne Robertson, Chief Curator and Assistant Director, West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. 

Webinar Length:  22 min. 53 sec.
Note:  When viewing the webinar a new browser page will open.  

Discussion Question: An assessment of your institution’s holdings is an important tool in the development of your emergency plan. Besides giving you an overall scope of what your institution has in its collection, it will also assist you in the creation of your priority criteria. These criteria can include items that have a high value or items that can be damaged the most during a disaster. What other considerations will you take into account while creating your priority list?

Florida State University Libraries - Priorities Sample (.pdf)

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo - Priorities Sample (.pdf)

West Florida Historic Preservation Inc. - Priorities Sample (.pdf)
Note:  When viewing the samples a new browser page will open.   

Online Resources

Heritage Preservation, Field Guide to Emergency Response, Now, Where Is That and What Do I Save First? (worksheets)

National Park Service (NPS), Museum Handbook, Part I: Museum Collections
See Part D.  Prioritization of Museum Collections for Salvage

Northeast Document Conservation Center, Preservation Leaflets, Considerations for Prioritizing

Speaker Biography
Lynne Robertson is Chief Curator and Assistant Director at the West Florida Historic Preservation Inc. She is responsible for writing and updating collections policies, as well as other procedures and manuals for the museum. This includes updating written disaster plans for all museum facilities (four museums, seven historic house museums, administration building, archival resource center, historic church, and two museum stores). She trains staff and implements preparation and recovery hurricane procedures as needed. Lynne teaches sessions at the University of West Florida that deal specifically with collections management and disaster preparations and recovery. In 2009 she led the disaster recovery effort for the Santa Rosa Historical Society when the theater block burned in Milton, Florida. She has presented for several webinars and workshops on disaster planning and response.


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