Emergency Plan

About the Emergency Plan

Originally Created by the Lexington Area Conservation Cooperative and Yolanda Merrill
A Project Funded by a 1989 Title III LSCA Grant
Last full update: August 2016 by Alston Cobourn, Tom Camden, & Elizabeth Teaff

Staff and student employees in the University Library should be familiar with the following:

  • emergency numbers list
  • fire extinguisher use and locations
  • location of recovery supplies
  • evacuation procedures

A disaster in a library may occur at any time. For this very reason it is necessary for a library to have a plan which will describe what to do in a particular emergency, whom to contact, and how to recover from that disaster.

This Emergency Plan will be revised and updated once a year. After each revision and update, the plan will be presented to the entire staff.

For general emergency response information refer to the Washington and Lee University Emergency Management Plan

Emergency Telephone Numbers

ALL EMERGENCIESRegional Consolidated Dispatch System9-911 (on campus)

911 (off campus)

HospitalCarilion Rockbridge Community Hospital9-458-3300 (on campus)

540-458-3300 (off campus)

SecurityW & L Security  Dispatch8999 (on campus)

540-458-8999 (off campus)

Ethan KipnesDirector of Public Safety8427 (on campus)

540-458-8427 (off campus)

Facilities Management8357 or 8490* (on campus)

540-458-8357 or 540-458-8490* (off campus)

*after 5 pm on weekdays or on weekends call Public Safety

W&L Physicians8401 (on campus)

540-458-8401 (off campus)

American Association of Poison Centers9-1-800-222-1222 (on campus)

1-800-222-1222 (off campus)

When an emergency occurs after normal business hours (after 5 pm on weekdays or on weekends), the staff member at the Leyburn Information Desk should call the appropriate authorities:

  • Fire Department
  • Public Safety
  • Access Services Staff members

University Library Phone Tree (Password Protected)

Emergency Reminders

  • Don’t use the elevators during emergencies. Use nearest exit and staircase if necessary.
  • Don’t try to extinguish the fire while evacuating the building.

Important Materials: Evacuation Priorities

The following materials are evacuation priorities after the immediate emergency has passed:

Main Level: Files in Administrative Office M43

Lower Level 1: Old George (Spec.Coll reading room); George Washington Portrait (Staircase); University Artwork (all floors)

Lower Level 1:  Special Collections Vault

  • Lee Collection
  • Washington Collection
  • Board of Trustees Records

Response to General Emergency Situations

In the event of a suspicious person or object/package, notify Public Safety at 8999 (on campus) or 540-458-8999 (off campus)

For more information refer to the University’s Emergency Management Plan

Response to Fire, Natural Disasters, and Water Emergencies


When smoke or fire is detected or reported, do the following in the order given:

  1. Dial 9-911 (on campus) to alert the Lexington Fire Department
  2. Dial 8999 (on campus) to alert Public Safety

Emergency Supplies List


Tornadoes may occur in Virginia from March to October. They are not as likely to occur in mountainous regions as in more flat terrain. These violent windstorms are recognizable by the twisting funnel-shaped cloud which points downward from the base of a cloud bank and touches ground for periods of up to 20 minutes. Tornadoes move rapidly. Most likely, there will be little warning if there is a tornado; consequently, there will be little time to seek shelter.

Tornado Evacuation Procedures
If a tornado occurs, do not evacuate the building. If possible, persons in the building should move to the lowest level, such as the lower stacks, staying away from windows, or to an inner hallway or small inner room away from windows. Shelter should not be sought in large halls because the roof may collapse. All persons will need to seek their own protection, staying as close to the floor as possible and getting under heavy furniture, such as tables, if possible.


Hurricanes may occur on the Atlantic Coast of Virginia between June and November. Damage from heavy rain and flooding as well as high winds may occur. Hurricanes are slow moving so precautions can be taken before the storm actually strikes.

Hurricane Evacuation Procedures
If sufficient warning is given in a hurricane emergency, the building can be evacuated and closed before the hurricane strikes.  The following precautions should be made: rare and valuable materials can be moved to a safe place; the power can be turned off; windows should be taped to reduce the danger of flying glass; and doors should be closed. If there are people in the building when the hurricane strikes, they should move to the lowest levels of the building, such as the basement level or the lower stacks and not leave until the storm is over. A battery-powered radio should be available from Facilities Management so that weather reports can be monitored.  For further information on evacuation, see the Evacuation Team section.


Earthquakes may occur in Virginia. The danger from earthquakes is caused by what they do to man-made structures–debris falling from damaged buildings, flying glass from broken windows, fires caused by broken gas lines, and flooding due to broken water mains. There is no warning before an earthquake occurs.

Earthquake Evacuation Procedures
When an earthquake happens, the building should not be evacuated. Persons in the building should stay in the inner core of the building away from windows.  Shelter should be taken in a doorway, in a narrow corridor, or under a heavy table, desk, or bench.  Also, be aware that after-shocks may follow for several hours or days after the earthquake. A battery-powered radio should be available from Facilities Management, so that instructions concerning the earthquake can be monitored.  For further information on evacuation, see the Evacuation Team section.


In the event of a water emergency, many supplies may be need from the Emergency Supply Closet, which is located in the cupboards by the University Librarian’s Office (M43, Main Floor).  Some supplies live elsewhere and their locations are noted on the Emergency Supplies List

Response Procedures

  1. If there is a broken pipe, a roof leak, or a flood, call Public Safety at 8999 (on campus) or 540-458-8999 (off campus).
  2. If water is leaking from the ceiling, cover the area with plastic sheeting (in Emergency Supply closet). Place plastic buckets (in Janitorial Closet) under leaks.
  3. If there is water on the floor, remove books from lower shelves onto higher shelves or onto vacant shelves on the walls away from where water is standing. Empty book trucks from the Lower Level 1 hallway may also be used for this purpose.
  4. Unplug any electrical equipment in the area, unless the outlet is submerged, or you would need to stand in water to do so.
  5. If electricity in the building needs to be turned off, call Public Safety at 8999 (on campus) or 540-458-8999 (off campus).
Water Evacuation Procedures
The building needs to be evacuated only in case of major water damage and when structural damage can be expected. The decision to evacuate should be made by the head of the library, and the Evacuation Team will organize the evacuation. The team leader (staff member at the Leyburn Information Desk) should coordinate all activities related to the evacuation, including notification of police and/or fire departments, and supervision of other key evacuation personnel. During evacuation, elevators should not be used.For further information on evacuation, see the Evacuation Team section.

Recovery Information for Natural Disasters and Water Damage

Recovery and Recovery Resources

In addition to water damage to materials, walls, ceilings, and shelves may collapse. When such structural damage occurs, the person in charge of the over-all building maintenance needs to assess the structural damage and determine when it is safe to enter the building. Then, damage to affected materials needs to be assessed. The recovery operation for library materials may include reshelving, evaluating damage and deciding upon repair, and making decisions on individual items by subject specialists.

Salvage of Wet Materials

Following a disaster that results in wet materials, it is important to deal with these materials as soon as possible because mold growth can begin to occur within 48 hours. First, remove standing water and reduce and stabilize the temperature at between 55-70ºF and the relative humidity at between 30-50%. Then, begin dealing with the materials themselves. There are several methods for drying materials, which are described below.Air drying is best for small quantities of materials because it takes a lot of space, time, labor, and has the highest potential for mold growth. This method can be used on materials from the library’s circulating collections if the quantity is small enough. This is the preferred method for photographs from Special Collections. Only in rare cases should it be used for Special Collections books and papers. The Head of Special Collections should give this approval.

  • Books: Dry damp or slightly wet books by sitting them open on one end with pages fanned out and use fans to circulate air.  For books that are slightly wet, intersperse blotter paper between the pages, and change this paper periodically.  This method is not recommended for books with coated (slick) pages.
  • Photographs: Spread the photographs out to dry, face up, laying them flat on an absorbent material such as blotters, unprinted newsprint, paper towels, or a clean cloth.  Do not touch the wet emulsions.  Weight down photographs evenly on edges to prevent curling.
  • Audiovisual materials: Should be laid on absorbent material such as blotters, unprinted newsprint, paper towels, or a clean cloth.
    Do not freeze these materials.

Freeze Drying is the preferred method for Special Collections materials except as noted for specific kinds of materials below.

  • Books: Books that are more wet, should be frozen and freeze dried (mostly likely with a vendor). The temperature in the freezer must be maintained at or below -10° F. Books and stacks of records should be restrained between unprinted, clean corrugated board wrapped with a strong elastic band to help reduce cockling. Place wrapped books in milk or postal crates spine down. Do not layer books. Try to realign distorted books because books will come out of freezing in the same shape as they entered it. However, do not force them back into shape as this may cause more damage.
  • Photographs: Freeze photographs if they are stuck together or they are stuck to their frames or glass.  Do not freeze wet daguerreotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes.

See the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)’s Preservation Leaflets for more detailed information.

Recovery Information for Rodents, Insects and Mold

Rodents and Insects

If there is evidence of rodent or insect infestation, the infested material should be isolated from the rest of the collection. Possible locations include the loading dock area of Leyburn Library and other non-carpeted rooms on campus. The type and extent of infestation should be identified. Contact the LYRASIS Preservation Office for further instructions at 800-999-8558.

For more information on pest management read this NEDCC document: Integrated Pest Management.

Moldy Books and Paper

If there is evidence of mold and/or mildew, the affected materials should be removed from the collection.  The Head of Special Collections should determine if the materials should undergo remediation activities.

For more information read this NEDCC document: Emergency Salvage of Moldy Books and Paper.

Recovery Information for Specific Library Collections

The staff listed below will make decisions on how to proceed for their particular collections if they have been affected by a disaster.  The Collection Management Committee will make decisions about all other collections, including Reference, Government Documents, and Current and Bound and Periodicals.

  • Media and Computer Hardware (John White/Jason Mickel)
  • Exhibit material on the Main Floor of Leyburn (Emily Cook)
  • Special Collections & Archives (Tom Camden)

Recovery Services and Consultants

Following is a list of types of services and consultants which may be needed as a part of recovery from a fire or water disaster. The list should be checked once a year for accurate names and telephone numbers.

Freezer Space

  • (On Campus) Director of W&L Auxiliary Services  540-548-8197
  • (Off Campus) Library of Virginia  Director, Records Management Services  804-692-3600

Freeze Drying and Fumigation

  • Document Reprocessors Middlesex, NY 14507  800-437-9464
  • Fumigation Wrights Extermination Service  2937 Richard Ave. NE  Roanoke, VA  540-345-3350
  • T.W. Clark Local Pest Control  2468 N. Lee Highway  Lexington, VA 24450  540-463-9675

Janitorial Services

  • American Janitorial Service  5120 Peter’s Creek Road  Roanoke, VA 24019  540-366-4004
  • Servicemaster Clean of Lexington  521 South Main St.  Lexington, VA 24450  540-463-4877


  • Lee-Hi Trucking  2516 N. Lee Highway  Lexington, VA 24450  540-463-3478
  • Penske Truck Rental  101 Memorial Ln  Lexington, VA 24450  540-462-6047
  • Dennis Engleman  Uhaul-Texaco Station  East Lexington, HWY 11 N  540-463-3842

Moisture Control

  • Munters Corp. – Moisture Control Services  540 Woodlake Circle, Ste. C.  Chesapeake, Va 23320  1-800-686-8377

General Recovery

  • Tom Head  BMS CATASTROPHE  303 Arthur Street  Fort Worth, TX 76107  1-800-433-2940
  • John Hall or Keith Holland  Holland General Contractors  80 Forge Road  Lexington, VA 24450  540-261-5151


  • Northeast Document Conservation Center  100 Brickstone Square  Andover, MA 01810  978-470-1010  (email: nedcc@nedcc.org)
  • LYRASIS Preservation Services.  [We are a member of this library network]  800-999-8558
  • Preservation Officer University of Virginia  Alderman Library  Charlottesville, VA 22903  434-924-1055

Recovery Funds and Supplies


Contact Library Administration at 540-458-8642 if emergency purchases need to be made.


Following is a list of supplies, most of which will be in-house supplies, except for large items such as dehumidifiers. This list should be checked once a year. For additional supplies call the Library Administration Office at 540-458-8642.


Emergency Supplies ClosetCupboard # 8 outside University Librarian suite, Main Floor Leyburn
Library Supplies ClosetCupboard #2 and #6 outside University Librarian suite, Main Floor Leyburn
Janitorial RoomLower Level 1 — mailroom area

Item Locations

batteriesEmergency Supplies Closet
book trucksHallway leading to Mailroom; Collection Services; Information Desk
broomsJanitorial Room
bucketsJanitorial Room
cardboard cartonsCollection Services; Mailroom
chemical light sticksFacilities Management
cleaning compoundJanitorial Room
crowbarFacilities Management
dehumidifiersFacilities Management
disinfectantJanitorial Room
duct tapeEmergency Supplies Closet
extension cordsLibrary Supplies Closet #6
3-wire, grounded, 50’ extension cordsJanitorial Room
fansFacilities Management
first aid kitsInformation Desk, Special Collections, & Student Health (540) 458-8401
flashlightsLibrary Departments
freezer paperEmergency Supplies Closet
generator, portableFacilities Management
hammer and nailsFacilities Management
hand sawFacilities Management
hoses, waterFacilities Management
hygrometersFacilities Management
incandescent work lightsFacilities Management
laddersFacilities Management
mopsJanitorial Room
paper towelsJanitorial Room; Staff Lounge Closet, Emergency Supplies Closet
pens/pencilsLibrary Supplies Closet #2
plastic garbage bagsJanitorial Room; Emergency Supplies Closet
plastic milk cratesFacilities Management
plastic sheetingEmergency Supplies Closet
plywoodFacilities Management
protective masks, gloves, clothingFacilities Management, Special Collections- masks
scissorsEmergency Supplies Closet
shovelFacilities Management
tape, packing paperMailroom
two-way radiosFacilities Management
water vacuumsFacilities Management
waxed paperEmergency Supplies Closet

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