Insurance and Disasters

Insurance and Disaster Plans

The planning you devote to the care, handling and storage of your collection will help you to prevent physical harm to your collection, caused by such things as flooding, exposure to contaminants, magnetic fields and other hazards.

Insurance can help you recover materials after a disaster has occurred, but you need to carefully consider the type of protection you need and can afford. You will need to establish the value of your collection, which can be especially difficult if you have unique tapes; there may not be a large commercial market on which to base valuation. Can the content be replaced and at what cost? If your tapes are in an off-site building, a public storage facility, or in the care of another institution you should be clear about what coverage you have from which organization and from which company. Often storage facilities are only liable for the loss of the blank medium, and are not responsible for loss of content. You need to understand what "replacement value" entails. You must clearly state whether you wish to insure the content value, or you may only be insured for the replacement of the blank recording medium. Coverage for content is often very expensive. You can also consider insuring for the costs of restoration, rather than content.

A disaster plan is important so that you know how to respond appropriately in the event of damage. You will need to assess existing damage, understand how to minimize any further damage, and prioritize your responses. You will also need a method to help you decide what steps you can take in-house and when you need to seek professional help. If you need to contract for outside services it will be important that you have a clear idea of the value of each of the damaged tapes, so you can make appropriate choices about recovery attempts.

Resources For Disaster Planning and Recovery

BMS CAT Special Technologies
Heritage Resource Management Associates
Smolian Sound Preservation 
Specs Brothers web offers detailed information with a FAQs page

Links for More Information

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

ConservationOnline (CoOL)
a comprehensive listing of organizations with disaster and recovery information

National Media Lab
National Technology Alliance Online access to the National Media Lab's Media Stability Technical Reports. Including information on Damage and Disaster Recovery.

Solinet listing of online resources

Van Bogart, John. Disaster Recovery Plan: Recovery of Damaged Magnetic Tape and Optical Disk Media  Presentation by John Van Bogart at a Library of Congress Symposium on September 21, 1995.