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Ready — Or Not

Cultural Heritage Disaster Preparedness Project


Image includes text that reads NEDCC is seeking a team of California-based Emergency Preparedness Consultants to lead “Ready—or Not,” a minimum three-year project funded by the State of California that will conduct emergency preparedness assessments of local archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and tribal nations to help those entities create written disaster preparedness plans to protect their collections and ensure future public access. These full-time, remote positions are based in California as part of NEDCC’s established teleworking program. More details and application information are available on NEDCC's employment page.

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Emergency Preparedness among Cultural Organizations in California

Cover page of the California Cultural Collections Protection Survey Report, dated June 2021.California is home to one of the most diverse and expansive cultural collections in the world. These photographs, books, diaries, manuscripts, pieces of art, and other artifacts are spread across thousands of institutions – many small and poorly resourced – who are the primary keepers of local and tribal history and art.

In 2020, the California State Library and its cultural heritage partners embarked on the California Cultural Collections Protection Survey, which gathered information about the state of California’s cultural heritage collections and the extent to which institutions prioritize, plan for, and resource collection protection. Extrapolating from the survey data, there are an estimated 1,200 cultural collection-holding organizations lack disaster preparedness plans. Any of these collections are at grave risk from disasters, including natural events such as earthquakes or floods, as well as human-caused emergencies or threats.

Project Summary

The “Ready – Or Not” Cultural Heritage Disaster Preparedness project is a three-year initiative to assess emergency preparedness at California organizations that care for cultural and historic resources (e.g., archives, libraries, museums, and tribal nations). A team of heritage preservation consultants will conduct a site visit for each participating organization and will deliver a summary report that documents its current state of emergency preparedness. The report will include recommendations to guide the organization through a process of identifying and mitigating risks, taking emergency preparedness actions, and completing a disaster response plan.

The consultants will be available by email and telephone to answer questions and give advice as organizations work through the recommendations to write their disaster plans, and consultants will follow up to monitor and encourage each organization’s progress on completing its disaster plan. At every stage, organizations are expected to carry out their emergency planning internally and following their usual procedures (e.g., securing Board approval or involving stakeholders from across the organization). The planning process itself is crucial to emergency preparedness, as it encourages communication, documentation, and collaboration—all of which are important skills for successful disaster response. 

Having taken these steps, each organization will be better prepared to protect their unique collections in the face of a range of emergencies such as wildfire, earthquake, flood or mudslide, pipe break, extended power outage, pest infestation, terrorism, unexpected closure, and public health emergency. This, in turn, ensures that California’s cultural heritage is preserved into the future as part of the historical narrative of the state and its peoples. In addition, the summary assessment report, self-completed disaster plan, and preparedness actions demonstrate an organization's commitment to preservation and can be used to support applications for grants and other funding that may be available to strengthen collections care and emergency preparedness.

California Grants Portal

See Portal ID 8843,


This project is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, 
administered by the California State Library. 

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