Disaster Planning for Libraries

Hurricane Sandy shut our library (and our servers) down for over a week. In the wake of that event, I’ve been looking carefully at our in-house systems and backup processes and have decided that we really need a well-thought out disaster plan. I think that many of us are optimists and don’t ever think that anything damaging could happen to our libraries, but I’ve come to realize that it’s better to have a contingency plan in place when things like this happen. I’m in charge of the IT department in our library so I’m focusing on those aspects of the plan, and I thought it would be helpful to post about this and share my thoughts and resources.

Disaster Recovery Resources

  • IBM has a fantastically detailed Disaster Recover Plan Template complete with inventory tables, action checklists, and mobile site setup plans. I think that for most libraries this is a bit of overkill, but there’s a lot of good stuff here to learn from and take just the parts you’re interested in.
  • Derek Slater at CSO Online has a great article on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning: The Basics. This resource discusses putting a plan in place to keep your organization up and running during disasters of all kinds including: power failures, IT system crashes, natural disasters, supply chain problems and more.
  • Jennifer Walzer at the New York Times has put together a very nice, straightforward Small-Business Guide to Disaster Recovery. She includes a step-by-step plan to avoid data loss, put a communications plan in place, as well as a business continuity plan in case of an event.
  • FEMA has a great resource on Preparedness Planning for Your Business. It consists of a five-steps including; Program Management, Planning, Implementation, Testing and Exercises, and Program Improvement each of which are discussed in-depth and with plenty of examples.
  • The folks at Symantic have put together this quick guide to 10 Essentials for the Small Business Disaster Recovery Tool Kit. They also have a podcasts page where you can listen to audio recordings on this and other releated topics such as online backups.

Library Disaster Recovery Plan for IT

  • Systems Inventory
    • Hardware
      • Servers
      • What’s stored on each?
    • Software
      • List of software purchases
      • Software setup files backed up?
      • License keys backed up?
    • Cloud Services
      • List of cloud services we’re using to store/create data
  • Risk Assessment
    • Viruses
      • Virus Protection?
    • Power Outages
    • Battery Backup
    • Server/Hardware Failure
      • Backup of system/network settings ready to port to a new server?
      • Plan for porting data onto new server?
  • Backup/Retention Schedule
    • Cloud Backup
      • What’s being backed up?
    • In-house backup server
      • What’s being backed up?
      • Where’s it stored?
      • How to access the data?
    • What’s not being backed up?
      • Saas/cloud services data
  • Alternative Hosting
    • Amazon Web Services?
  • Testing
    • What we need in case of disaster
    • What are critical functions of the library?

Has anyone created a disaster recovery plan for their library? I’d love to see it if you’re willing to share. And if enough people post links to their plans, I’ll follow this post up with an article on Library Disaster Recovery Plan Examples!!