Announcement | Head of Preservation, Conservation, and the Library Annex Exhibits Disaster Preparedness Kit at the United Nations

Michelle Venditelli describes the Brown University Library’s disaster preparedness kit to colleagues from India at the UN

In May of this year, Michelle Venditelli, Head of Preservation, Conservation, and the Library Annex, attended “Sustainable Development Goals in Libraries today: the role of libraries in strengthening our communities,” a panel discussion at the United Nations’ Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York. While there, she was invited to exhibit at the 68th Annual United Nations Civil Society Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. She was also asked to be a mentor during the Youth Mentorship Circle – Setting the Stage for Success.

The three-day conference, held August 26 – 28, 2019, was co-hosted by the UN Department of Global Communications, Salt Lake City, and the NGO Executive Committee. It featured opening and closing plenary sessions, interactive thematic sessions, NGO-sponsored workshops, exhibits, and a youth hub. Speakers and attendees included leaders and other representatives from NGOs, UN agencies, academia, faith traditions, the public and private sectors, and youth from around the world.

The conference focused on #11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a blueprint for action, advocacy, and partnership and a compass to ensure that no one is left behind, including those who are poor and vulnerable. The 11th SDG is, “to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030.” The conference also explored the interlinkages among all 17 Goals, including critical issues relating to gender.

During the exhibition component, Michelle presented an exhibit entitled “Reducing Risk in Libraries, Museums, and Cultural Institutions through Disaster Preparedness Kits.” She was accompanied by a fully stocked disaster kit, which represents the Brown University Library’s new approach to localized threats to our collections. Showcasing the kit at this conference provided Michelle with an opportunity to discuss cutting edge preservation efforts and techniques with professional peers from around the globe. “It was an honor to exhibit at this unique and critically important conference,” Michelle said. “Interacting with experts in disaster preparedness as well as professionals seeking to develop best practices around disaster prep for collections of all kinds was incredibly informative and rewarding.”

the kit in front of the exhibit table

The kit was extremely well received and sparked robust, excited conversation from library and museum colleagues from states throughout the U.S. and abroad. More than once, a colleague told Michelle that the kit is “like a crash cart for disasters.”

Staff from the University of Utah’s Marriott Library were particularly impressed with the kit. At the conclusion of the conference, instead of shipping the sizable unit back to Brown, Michelle and the Brown Library gifted it to the Marriott Library, providing them with a much-needed preservation tool, which they were thrilled to receive.