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At the State Library of South Australia, the preservation and protection of the state’s heritage items are fundamental to our work. As for all cultural heritage and collecting institutions, disaster risk awareness, preparedness and reduction are areas of key concern. Australia continues to experience significant natural disasters which have affected cultural heritage and collections and it is crucial to be prepared.

Over the last few years, the State Library has worked with Blue Shield Australia to deliver workshops in collection disaster preparedness and response. Blue Shield Australia is part of an international network, working to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by armed conflict and natural disasters.

Earlier this year Blue Shield Australia partners held training in Disaster Risk Management for Heritage (DRM4H). Delivered in person and online the program attracted 140 participants from across Australia, New Zealand and the near pacific, and from different disciplines including architects, engineers, archaeologists, librarians, and conservators. The training focused on all areas of cultural heritage including the landscape, place, buildings, and collections. Each of these aspects are interdependent in a risk management context.

The training program consisted of two days of theory hosted by Flinders University, with the third supported and hosted by the State Library of South Australia. The State Library’s buildings and collections were used as a case study.

Participants came away with a stronger understanding of the importance of:

  • investing in disaster prevention
  • investing time in understanding the complex relationships that exist in DRM4H context
  • a renewed understanding of the multi-layered and interconnected nature of our heritage places and collections. 

On International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, 13 October 2022, Blue Shield Australia is again partnering with the State Library of South Australia to offer a workshop to further raise awareness of disaster preparedness and response for heritage collections. If you work with archives, library, or museum collections in a small or community context this workshop may be of interested.

Written by Annette Mills, Business Analyst Library Collections

Image: Pioneers landing at Port Adelaide, watercolour on paper, 1839. SLSA B 1212.