English for librarians
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  • inventory = inventaire
  • the cultural property = propriété intellectuelle
  • subsidy = subside
  • to foresee = prévoir
  • shelter = abri
  • to voice = exprimer, formuler. To voice one's opposition to sth:  s'opposer à qqch
  • to value (at) = évaluer, estimer (à).
    We value your opinion: votre avis nous importe beaucoup. He is someone we all value: nous l'apprécions tous beaucoup
  • to spread knowledge about...
  • patrimony = le patrimoine
  • disaster = Désastre, catastrophe sinistre. Disaster area: zone sinistrée
  • damage = les dégâts
  • to rescue =sauver
  • to sort = trier
  • arson = incendie criminel
  • flooding = innondation
  • vandalism = le vandalisme
  • earthquake = tremblement de terre
  • hurricane = ouragan
  • lyophillization = lyophillisation
  • the site of the fire (/ the fire place = l'âtre, la cheminée)
  • deep frozen : congelé; the freezer: le congélateur
  • mould = moisissure; mouldy = moisi


Consortium  for the Preservation of Documentary Patrimony in Case of Disaster

I have divided my talk into four parts:

1. What is COSADOCA and who belongs to COSADOCA

2. What are its objectives / its actions

3. The COSADOCA team

4. How the intervention goes off

1. What is COSADOCA

It was started in 2003, this consortium was built by
  • The  Vaud Cantonal Archives (ACV)
  • The SISB (Scientific Information and Libraries) of the EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)
  • The Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne (BCU)
Cosadoca works in close contact wih the firemen and the PBC : The Cantonal Office for the Protection of Cultural Property. This office belongs to the Civil Protection Department, whose mission is to...
  • establish an inventory of all the cultural property to be protected
  • foresee protective measures for this property (documentary files for the buildings, microfilms, inventory of movable property)
  • foresee the construction of a shelter for the movable cultural property
  • help the municipalities, private sectors, and associations with subsidies
  • train PBC specialists for the protection of the population
The Western Lausanne Region Civil Protection (ORPC-ROL) Organization is also involved in supplying logistics and materials such as lighting, pumps, shelters, tents or other working spaces, radio communication, working clothes such as helmets, raincoats, boots…

2. Cosadoca’s mission

is to implement at the western Lausanne locations (Dorigny and EPFL) an inter-institutional collaboration for rescuing the documentary patrimony in case of disasters such as fire or arson, flooding, vandalism, earthquakes, hurricanes... or plainly caused by a minor incident – a burst water pipe –
Can you imagine how important the consequences could be:
  • financially on the one hand and
  • by preventing an institution from performing their immediate operations with their customers to save patrimony and to make study documents available as soon as possible to students and teachers; to make available the researchers working tools whose partial or total closure in case of natural damage and disasters would cause harm to the proper functioning of the educational networks.
Beyond the mutualisation of the material resources and skills, COSADOCA provides a common discussion board for public institutions. It offers the opportunity to voice opinions to the authorities and to value the conservation and patrimonial missions as well as the spreading of knowledge to related institutions.
COSADOCA is also an organ of practical and technical information for any institution confronted with a small or large disaster.
Each year Cosadoca organises practical training sessions for the library employees in order to increase its rapidity and efficiency in rescuing documents.
This year 2008, from March 26 - 28, in collaboration with PAC (Preservation et conservation) de l'IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)  COSADOCA organizes an international conference dealing with the practical training of the intervention team in case of disaster and uses of modern technologies (RFID) to improve the evacuation, sorting and follow-up of damaged documents.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders.
An RFID tag is an object that can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radiowaves. Most RFID tags contain at least two parts. One is an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating a (RF) signal, and other specialized functions. The second is an antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal.

3. The Cosadoca staff

Made of 5 teams; each member wears a coloured armband
  • The rescue coordinator (in general the library’s head manager and one assistant) (red team; wears a red armband)
  • The evacuation  team (blue team): in charge of the evacuation of the documents from the disaster area. They are evacuated in plastic boxes - which were previously numbered; boxes are temporarily stored in shelters, in a place called “the buffer zone”.
  • The sorting team (yellow team): in charge of the sorting of documents. They are sorted according to priorities: the importance of the document (the importance has to be determined beforehand!) and the value: if the document is cheap or expensive, if it is recent and can be purchased easily, how badly it it has been burned or soaked, if it is mouldy, what kind of material it is made of: paper, glazed paper, microform, CD, DVD etc.  Some are directly eliminated, some are air dried with a ventilator, if damage is limited or if needed quickly. Some are stored in deep freezers in order to avoid mould. Afterwards the documents will be dried by lyophilisation (l ai o f i l ai z ei ch n) and restored.
  • The supply team (pink team) is in charge of specialized materials : e.g.gloves, masks preprinted sheets to trace the documents, and office equipment such as pencils, paper, photocopying machines, computers, printers etc.
  • The canteen team (orange team) is in charge of  food and beverages. 
Don’t forget that the document rescue can be a very demanding process during  the first 48 hours. It is important to sort the documents for these first 48 hours before the pages stick together and start to be mouldy. 

4. How the intervention proceeds

Now I will show you how a rescue operation unfolds.

For instance in case of fire.

First an alert is given to the headquarters of the library that then alerts the firemen and the rescue coordinator

The firemen operate, the fire is extinguished  

At the same time the rescue coordinator calls the Civil Protection team manager (in charge of logistics)  

He also calls his team leaders;

Once the site of the fire has been secured, the firemen manager, the rescue coordinator and the civil protection manager enter the place and assess the damage: how many documents, how many shelves, what kind of documents, what are the damage (water, fire, mud, etc); they decide how to organize the rescue and how many people must be involved. 

Each team leader calls their staff. 

As soon as the people arrive, they are equipped (clothes, material) by the intendancy team and the Civil protection team.They then prepare the boxes to carry the books.

The Civil protection team installs their materials, build the shelter for the command, the buffer and the rescue areas and arranges the places for sorting, supplies etc.

 It is important to take time for the organisation and setting up the different areas so that further works may be more efficient.

Evacuation can now begin. The documents are taken carefully out of the shelves and carried out to the buffer area. The more precious documents are carried out first.

According to their value and the degree of wetness, the documents are transported to the rescue area.

Urgent sorting can then begin.

The documents are taken one by one and registered on prepared sheets. Each librarian works with a PBC man (The Cantonal Office for the Protection of Cultural Property)

They then decide what to do with each document.

 Each document contains on its title page the location code and a value code from zero to 4. Zero is the highest value: it is a cultural heritage so the document  absolutely must be saved and restored. Number 4 means that the document is no longer of value or a new one or a new edition can be easily bought. According to its value code, its degree of damage and its usefulness the document is then

  -         deep frozen 

  -         dried by air, usually with the help of ventilators

  -         just stored (if the document has not been  damaged)

-         or in the contrary destroyed

 This sorting must be done within 48 hours. If not the paper begins to mould.

After that, the operations of defrosting by lyophillization and restoration can follow. That can take months, or even years…but that is another story… 


thank you for your attention