MAC Fall 2023 Symposium

Disaster Planning Distilled: Practical Training Served Neat
November 3-4, 2023
Filson Historical Society
Louisville, Kentucky

About the Symposium

The first week in May in Louisville is a celebration with ringing in the Kentucky Derby. But this celebration of horses and bourbon also coincides with Preservation Week and MayDay. MayDay is a time when archivists and other cultural heritage professionals take personal and professional responsibility for doing something simple—something that can be accomplished in a day but that can have a significant impact on an individual’s or a repository’s ability to respond. Kentucky in the past two years has experienced two major weather events that impacted archives of several repositories. In light of the upward trend of significant weather events causing disasters for repositories, the MAC Symposium wishes to provide practical disaster response training with the “Disaster Planning Distilled: Practical Training Served Neat.”

Over the course of 1.5 days, participants will have a chance to get hands-on training in salvage and disaster response while also hearing from colleagues who have experienced and responded to disasters in archival and cultural heritage organizations. Participants will have the opportunity to work in teams in a hands-on recovery of wet materials. Papers, books, photographs, textiles, and objects will all be included in the salvage exercise. The experience will allow experimentation and observation through disaster scenarios of the ways different media are damaged, and to gain an understanding of how to organize and react to an actual disaster. This will be a physically active exercise and participants should dress comfortably to move around and be prepared to get dirty!


MAC Members: $150.00
Non-Members: $175.00
Students: $75.00

Registration fees cover attendance to the Symposium, two continental breakfasts, one box lunch, and break snacks.


Cancellations and Refunds

If for any reason, you must cancel your registration for the Symposium, your written request must be received on or before October 20, 2023 to receive a full refund. Please make requests to Debra Nolan (dnolan[at] with AMC Source. No refunds will be issued after October 20, 2023. 

Americans with Disabilities Act

MAC is committed to an inclusive Symposium. For requests, please contact Benn Joseph, MAC Vice President, at (benn.joseph[at] Please inform the Brown Hotel for assistance when making a reservation.

Code of Conduct

MAC is strongly committed to providing an environment of cooperation and collaboration. These values are central to our mission. Similarly, we aim to ensure that all participants can learn, network, and enjoy the company of colleagues in an environment of mutual respect in all physical and online spaces, including events, committee work, social media, forums, and other activities.

All participants and attendees at the Annual Meeting are expected to abide by the MAC Code of Conduct. MAC does not tolerate harassment in any form and is committed to providing a harassment-free environment for its members and others who participate in our events. Information on how to report violations is available on the website; if there is an emergency, please call 911.

Travel and Accommodations

The Brown Hotel
335 West Broadway
Louisville, KY, 40202
(502) 583-1234

Event Room Rate: $199.00 per night

Hotel Self-Parking: $26.00 per day (valet parking: $30.00)

Direct link to book room

About the Presenters

Sara Holmes started working at the National Archives and Records Administration in Preservation Programs at St. Louis in 2007. She is currently a Conservator. Before coming to the National Archives, she was a conservator at Texas Tech University and the Missouri State Archives. Ms. Holmes has a Master’s in Library and Information Science with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Conservation of Library and Archival Materials from the University of Texas and a Master’s in History from the University of New Orleans. She is also a Certified Archivist and was selected as a member of the first cohort of the Archives Leadership Institute in 2008.

The half-day of the Symposium will include a panel of local cultural heritage professionals who will share their experience responding to natural disasters in Kentucky.

  • Jeremy A. Smith, East Tennessee State University 
  • Nick Shaner, University of Louisville
  • Lori Myers-Steele, Berea College. 
  • Melissa Helton, Hindman Settlement House
  • Sarah Insalaco, Flood Recovery Archivist, Hindman Settlement House
  • Caroline Reubens, Executive Director, Appalshop Archive

Jeremy A. Smith is the Director of the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University.  Previously he worked as the Special Collections Librarian for the Oberlin Conservatory Library and as a music archivist at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Library. Smith received a B.M. in music theory from the University of South Carolina’s Honors College, an M.A. in theology from Regent University, a Ph.D. in musicology from Duke University, and a Digital Archives Specialist certificate from the Society of American Archivists.

Nick Shaner is the Barry Bingham Jr. Courier-Journal Photograph Collection Archivist at the University of Louisville. Nick hails from Berea, Kentucky where he received a BA in Philosophy from Berea College. He holds an MLIS (Archives Concentration) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists.

Melissa Helton is Literary Arts Director at Hindman Settlement School where she develops writing and literary programming for the community. In the immediate aftermath of the July ’22 flood, she was tasked with leading the archive rescue efforts. She has edited an anthology about the flood titled Troublesome Rising: A Thousand-Year Flood in Eastern Kentucky, due out September 2024 from Fireside Industries.

Lori Myers-Steele has been the Collections Archivist with the Berea College Special Collections and Archives in Berea, Ky, since 2014.  She has been a member of SAA’s Crisis, Disaster, and Tragedy Response Working Group since 2019 and participated in archive recovery efforts at the Hindman Settlement School (Hindman, Ky) following the July 2022 flooding in Eastern Kentucky.


The first day will consist of a day-long workshop style led by Sara Holmes of the NARA - St. Louis. The morning will consist of presentations and background information, with a hands-on salvage activity in the afternoon. Saturday morning will allow case studies from KY archivists who have experienced disaster salvage and recovery. The additional speakers have not been identified yet, but will be solicited through KCA and local/regional listservs.

Friday, 11/3

8:30am – 9:15am  

Registration/Continental Breakfast  


Opening remarks, introductions  

9:30 – 10:15 

Welcome, case studies, and safety 




Risk Assessment/Planning  


Salvage pt 1  


Lunch & set-up  


Salvage continued review  




Break & clean-up  




Tabletop exercises & Scenarios 


Q & A and wrap up  

Saturday, 11/4  




Welcome and Recap  

09:30- 10:30  

Panel 1  
○ Caroline Rubens, Appalshop  

○ TBD  

10:30- 10:45  


10:45- 11:45  

Panel 2  
○ Melissa Helton, Hindman Settlement School 
○ Sarah Insalaco, Hindman Settlement School 
○ Nick Shaner, University of Louisville
○ Lori Myers-Steel, Berea College 
○ Jeremy Smith, Eastern Tennessee State University  

Meeting Spaces

The event will take place at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, KY in the Owsley Brown II History Center in Street Hall. Outdoor space is available for salvage exercises.