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Finding Common Ground

We are pleased to share with you the full curriculum for Finding Common Ground: Collaborative Training for the Cultural Heritage and Emergency Response Communities.  This program was devel­oped by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in partner­ship with the Massachusetts State Archives and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services between 2017 and 2018. The project builds on a quarter century of the MBLC’s statewide preservation and disaster response activities but is applicable in any region and any state with minor revision.

Protecting humanities collections and municipal records is crucial to preserving our nation’s story, sustaining the economy, and fostering resilience. This goal can only be accomplished by the cultural heritage community if communication and training with the emergency response community is already in place. By bringing both communities together to learn from each other at the local level, we can affect the inclusion of cultural heritage in municipal risk assessment, mitigation planning, response to, and recovery from a disaster. It is time that both communities come together to recognize that once life safety has been addressed following a disaster, the health and welfare of a community depends on the recovery and vitality of all sectors, including cultural heritage.

To address these issues at the local level and to serve as a pilot at the national level, Finding Common Ground: Collaborative Training for the Cultural Heritage and Emergency Response Communities was developed through a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities grant to provide statewide, preparedness-and-response training project for cultural heritage and emergency responder personnel. This website includes:

  • 5 pre-program webinars to ensure all participants arrive with the same foundational knowledge;
  • Trainers materials for the program’s five workshops;
  • Slide decks and text for each in-person workshop;
  • Checklists to help develop your own live burn and salvage exercise;
  • Videos for the live burn and salvage workshops held in MA; and
  • Handouts.

The program was very successful in Massachusetts with 198 out of a maximum possible 200 registrants. Results that made us particularly happy include almost 100% of participating institutions completing a risk assessment, at least 30 institutions with complete disaster plans, a dramatic increase in the comfort level of cultural heritage institutions in responding to disasters, and most importantly to us, almost 100% of cultural heritage institutions feel more comfortable working with their local first responders, and first responders feel more comfortable working with their local cultural heritage institutions.

We hope that you find the curriculum helpful.