Skip to Content

"Ready — Or Not": Cultural Heritage Disaster Preparedness Project

NEDCC’s "Ready – Or Not" preservation consultants conduct free site visits for California organizations stewarding cultural resources and then deliver a report with their observations. Each report includes recommendations for mitigating risks, taking emergency preparedness actions, and completing a disaster plan, thereby providing each with tools to better protect their collections in an emergency, ensuring that California’s cultural heritage is preserved into the future.

California cultural heritage collections can schedule a free consultation for emergency preparedness assessment with "Ready – Or Not" at [email protected] or by phone at 855-501-3020. Read the team bios. 

Press release. Follow along with the site visits at #ReadyOrNotCA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Upcoming Information sessions

"Ready – Or Not" is hosting three half-hour information sessions over the summer to learn about the project, explore ways to engage in an emergency preparedness consultation, and ask any questions. Register in advance via the links below.

Disaster Preparedness for Small Organizations: June 8th at 9:30-10:00 a.m. (PST)
Register for the Zoom meeting here.

Disaster Preparedness for Tribal Organizations: July 6th at 5:00-5:30p.m. (PST)
Register for the Zoom meeting here.

Updating Your Disaster Plan: July 26th at 9:30-10:00a.m. (PST)
Register for the Zoom meeting here.


  • What happens at a full-day site visit consultation?

Learn More

  • Can my organization meet for a half-day consultation?

Learn More

  • We have offsite storage and multiple locations. Can you visit all my sites?

Learn More

  • What staff need to be at the consultation?

Learn More

  • Can my organization really participate if we only have one staff/volunteer or a small collection?

Learn More

  • What do we discuss at the site visit?

Learn More

  • What is in the report after the consultation?

Learn More

  • When will the consultant send the report?

Learn More

  • How long do organization staff or volunteers have to make edits to the report?

Learn More

"Thank you so much for your time – it was an incredibly productive day for all of us. We were glad to hear of areas where we’re already on target for disaster/emergency planning, and energized to consider the next steps for upgrading our current preparations."

"Wow! Thank you so much for this report! This information is a huge asset and is so appreciated. Taking these steps toward having an emergency plan in place gives us so much peace of mind. We couldn’t be more grateful. Your dedication is evident in this thorough report!"

"We have already placed barriers between window blinds and collections facing direct sunlight. We have requested a carpenter to check for any shelving not tethered to the wall. Almost all items are now on pallets with risers, and we will soon be ordering bungee cords as well as RH and Temperature data loggers. The incident report notebook was a great idea, which we have retroactively instituted. This was a great experience for all of us.” 



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 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. The survey data estimated 1,200 cultural collection-holding organizations lacked disaster preparedness plans. Many of these collections are at grave risk of disasters, including natural events such as earthquakes or floods, as well as human-caused emergencies or threats.

Project Summary
In response to the survey results, the “Ready – Or Not” Cultural Heritage Disaster Preparedness (press release) 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 conducts on-site visits for participating organizations and delivers a summary report that documents the organization's current state of emergency preparedness. The report includes 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 give advice as organizations work through the recommendations to write their disaster plans, and consultants follow up to monitor and encourage each organization’s progress in completing its disaster plan.

At every stage, organizations are expected to carry out their emergency planning internally and follow 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 is better prepared to protect its 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 people. 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. 

Participating Organizations:

Adamson House Museum
Agua Caliente History Museum
American River Nature Center
Antelope Valley Indian Museum
Arhoolie Foundation

Barona Cultural Center & Museum
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association
Bernhard Museum

Benicia Historical Park
Black Diamond Mine Archives

California Historical Society
California Museum
California State Railroad Museum
California State University, Sacramento University Library
California Surf Museum
Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum
Center for the Study of Political Graphics
Channel Islands Maritime Museums
Chief Gene Friend Museum
Claremont Heritage
Coronado Historical Association
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Colton Hall Museum

Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Command History Office and Archives
Diocese of San Jose Archives and Records Center
Death Valley National Park

El Alisal - The Charles F. Lummis House
Ella Strong Denison Library at Scripps College
Eastern California Museum

Fallbrook Historical Society
Fiddletown Preservation Society
Filipino American National Historical Society

The Gamble House
Gerth Archives and Special Collections

Heritage Museum of Orange County
Holocaust Museum
Humboldt County Historical Society

La Historia Historical Society Museum
Lemon Grove Historical Society
Letterform Archive
Little Manila Rising
Los Angeles Philharmonic Archives
Los Encinos State Historic Park

Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria
Malki Museum
Montage Health
Monterey Museum of Art
Monterey State Historic Park
Morris Graves Museum of Art
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Museum of Us

Oakdale Museum and History Center
OC Parks
Oceanside Museum of Art

The People's Center Museum
Pio Pico State Historic Park

Rim of the World Historical Society—Mountain History Museum

San Diego County Archives
San Diego National History Museum
San Francisco Public Library
Santa Barbara Mission Archive Library
Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society
Santa Rosa Jr. College Multicultural Museum
SFO Museum
Shinn Historical Park & Arboretum
Society of California Pioneers

Timber Heritage Association
Trudea Archives
Tulare County Museum
Turtle Bay Exploration Park

UC Davis Archives and Special Collections
UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

University of California San Francisco Library
USS Hornet—Sea, Air and Space Museum

Wakamatsu Farm
Warnecke Ranch & Vineyards
Will Rogers State Historic Park
The Writers Guild Foundation


California Grants Portal

See Portal ID 8843,

Resources for Participating Organizations

Pocket Response Resource: Instructions for Arts and Cultural Organizations

Download the Pocket Response Resource template here.

What it is:

  • A concise emergency resource that can be tucked in your pocket or stored on your device for immediate access to emergency contact information and emergency response actions.
  • A template that your arts or cultural organization, of any size or type, can easily customize, update, reproduce, and distribute.
  • An initial element of your more detailed and holistic preparedness plan. It’s a great place to start, and a great exercise to get your team engaged in thinking about emergency planning in a way that’s approachable and that quickly results in a useable document.

What it’s not:

  • It is not a readiness, emergency, or disaster plan. A plan is a combination of documents, processes, policies, trainings and drills that has been developed by an internal team and is familiar to all key staff and volunteers.
  • It is not a replacement for training and drills for staff and volunteers who may need to immediately respond to an emergency. Preparing and training provide the ‘muscle memory’ to swing into action right away.
  • It is not the place to stop! Visit for more information and resources to build out your complete preparedness plan.

How to fill it out:

  1. Less is more. You may be tempted to load this document with information that seems convenient to include. Don’t! Users must easily find exactly the information they need in the critical minutes and hours after an emergency. And, adding too much information will expand the document to three pages.
  2. Based on your particular computer, device, or operating system, the PRR may display differently. You may need to make some minor adjustments to ensure your PRR covers only two pages.
  3. Fill out a separate Pocket Response Resource for each of your buildings/locations.
  4. Consider security. You may need to include sensitive information in this document, which can be risky in wide distribution. (Examples include personal contact information, institutional financial and security information, facility access points and security details, etc.)
  5. If your organization has multiple facilities/buildings on a campus/complex, staff from each facility should work together. Complete those items which are common across the organization, including the institutional contacts and responses, and then tailor the remainder to specific locations.

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

California State Library Logo