Project OPAL Soars to the Eastern Shore of Maryland


On Tuesday, April 15th, 22 participants from public libraries in the Eastern Shore of Maryland will gather in Easton, Maryland, to learn about ways to improve their library’s disaster readiness and hear from Steve Schweikert, Deputy Director, Wicomico County Emergency Services, about ways libraries can work with emergency planners.  In the afternoon, participants will begin developing the cornerstone of Project OPAL, a one page service continuity plan.

Project OPAL was developed following of last year’s Ports in a Storm conference in Eatontown, New Jersey.  OPAL stands for One Page All Libraries, and refers to NN/LM’s goal of having a one page service continuity plan in every library in the United States.

NN/LM EP&R Summit Coming to Charlottesville

IMG_4718On Tuesday, May 6th, emergency planners and librarians will gather in Charlottesville, Virginia, for the next NN/LM EP&R Summit. The summit feature discussions rather than presentations.  Panelists will discuss topics such as social media, disaster apps, GIS, disaster information resources, and the value of library space following a disaster.  Summit participants will also be encouraged to participate in the discussions and will be eligible to sign up for NN/LM’s 15-Week Library Readiness program, which includes weekly email assignments designed to strengthen library readiness and promote a culture of readiness.

Normalcy and Intelligence: A forum to discuss ways libraries and information professionals can strengthen a community’s emergency planning strategy


  • John Halliday, Director, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library
  • Charles Werner, Charlottesville Fire Chief
  • Stacey Arnesen, Head, Office of Disaster Information Management Research Center, National Library of Medicine
  • Kirby Felts, Charlottesville/Albemarle Emergency Management Coordinator
  • Sammy Chao, Virginia Department of Health, Thomas Jefferson Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator
  • Ryan McKay, Virginia Department of Health

Where: Central Library, Charlottesville, Virginia
Parking: JMRL validates 2 hours of free parking at any downtown parking garage
When: Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 9:30am to 1pm

Sponsored by:

Library of Virginia
Jefferson-Madison Regional Library
National Library of Medicine
National Network of Libraries of Medicine


Diary of a Winter Storm at the UVA Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Wednesday, February 12, 2014: 15:20

A major winter storm is expected to move into Virginia later this afternoon and potentially drop 10 – 15 inches of snow and sleet.  If we get sleet on top of snow, then there is a good chance we will have power outages.  The library’s Service Continuity Team is ready to go in the event that the library is closed tomorrow.  We will do our best to maintain our online content, our network, interlibrary loan (borrows), and library email.  If our library is closed, our large after hours space will be available to anyone with a UVA Health System ID. Patrons who reserved a group study room or classroom tomorrow has been contacted.

All library staff know to call the university’s SNOW line to determine operating status.  (They can also find operating status on the university’s website.)  We will use our library’s voicemail and website to communicate the library’s operating status.  I have a message ready to go, if needed, mentioning that the after hours space is open and that our Service Continuity Team members are home maintaining core library services and resources.  The message also provides contact information for our library’s email address, which we will be monitoring during business hours.

Now we wait and see what happens.

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OPAL for LOGIN Meeting Report

Project OPAL (One Page All Libraries) was the topic of discussion at last Friday’s LOGINCAM00329 (2) meeting at the public library in West Deptford, New Jersey.  The keynote presenter was Dan Wilson, Coordinator for the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative.  The meeting started with a greeting from Anne Wodnick, President of LOGIN, follow by comments from Taft Barnet, of the American Red Cross, and Michele Stricker from the New Jersey State Library.


Michele Stricker from the New Jersey State Library.

Mr. Wilson provided the group with a background of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, as well as the progress public libraries in New Jersey have made since last spring’s Ports in a Storm conference in Eatontown, New Jersey.

He impressed on the need for each library to develop response procedures and to regularly drill staff in order to effectively react to unplanned disasters, something he termed holding the fort.  A library’s mettle, he said, is tested in this arena and it’s essential that all libraries beef up their readiness capabilities in this area. Mr. Wilson used the following questions that libraries can ask themselves to determine their preparedness level:

•Someone approaches the desk and reports that someone with a gun is approaching the library
•A tornado warning is issued for your area
•A train crashes nearby and leaking chlorine gas
The second part of his presentation was titled Unity for the Community, which focused on comments made by emergency planners at recent NN/LM EP&R summit meetings about the potential value of libraries.  He concluded this section with a quote from Verna Brown, W DeptfordOPAL9emergency planner in Hagerstown, Maryland:
If you want to be part of this, we would love to have you.  Can you enhance us?  Yes you can.  And we can enhance you as well.  One attendee mentioned that a library they once worked at offered its facility as a shelter.  Unfortunately, the library was overwhelmed by the experience and it was unlikely that they would make the offer again.  Mr. Wilson stated that this is and example of the importance

LOGIN attendees with their complimentary Red Cross emergency radios.

LOGIN attendees with their complimentary Red Cross emergency radios. Photo credit: Michele Stricker

of creating a very clear MOU with emergency planners.  The MOU will clearly state what the library is capable of providing to the community, along with actions to be taken to avoid stress on library staff and strain on library resources.

For the last part of his presentation, he showed the group how disaster response might look to a library with greater readiness capabilities using a table-top exercise that featured a major winter storm.

Unity for the Community: a report of the panel discussion during the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness and Response Summit at the Washington County Free Public Library

Each one of us, every day, is in one element of the emergency management cycle.  We are either in mitigation, preparedness, response, or recovery.  And mixed in with all of this are drills and table-top exercises. – Verna Brown

The summit took place in Hagerstown, Maryland, on January 23, 2014. The panel discussion reported here followed a summary of the mission of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative by Dan Wilson. The two panelists were Verna Brown, Emergency Management Coordinator for Washington County, Maryland, and Shawn Stoner, Washington County Public Health Emergency Planner.  The questions are from Dan Wilson and summit attendees.  Additional training took place in the afternoon, including the 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning, a table-top exercise, and an After Action Review.

Shawn Stoner, Verna Brown, and Julie Zamostny, Continuing Education Coordinator, Washington County Public Libraries

Shawn Stoner, Verna Brown, and Julie Zamostny, Continuing Education Coordinator, Washington County Public Libraries

Based on what you heard this morning, what roles do you see libraries possibly playing in your future planning?

Libraries could play a very important part in our planning.  We need to sit down soon and work on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). You could help us develop Family Assistance Centers (FAC) that are designed to assist with family unification.  There’s also the need for Disaster Relief Centers (DRC).  Would this be a good place to have a DRC?  Absolutely.  If this library would like to be added to the list, that would be great.  And I would encourage library participation at any one of our committees.  Outreach programs and partnerships are very important to us in emergency management.

Public Health would also welcome library participation in our planning.  We are very flexible and will take whatever you can provide us.  Your bookmobile would be great assistance during a pandemic or a terrorist attack, as we could take medications to the public.  It could also be used to get the preparedness information to the public.

Please talk a little more about the MOU.


The library would say what they are willing to do and we would say what we are willing to do.  For instance, if the library would say they will be a warming center, then we would get the word out that the library is a warming center, if it’s needed. And this is a two-way street.  We don’t expect you to do all the giving.  What can we give you?  We can provide emergency response and preparedness classes.  We can facilitate a security program or a table-top exercise.  We can also review your emergency plans.  All at no cost, resulting in a stronger and more resilient partnerships for the community.

Citizens come to the library because they want to know answers. We want to be a resource for you.

A formal agreement is important because it helps with planning and coordinating response activities.  If you sign an agreement but are unable to fulfill the agreement, it’s okay.  Each emergency is different and not everything planned for is possible.

The agreement would state that the library could be, not will be, so if you are unable to help for some reason, that’s okay. Here’s an example: a couple of years ago we had a big fire in the area. Everybody assumed the shelter was going to be at the local high school.  However, the high school had no electricity that day.  Therefore, about 20 years ago we stopped telling people where their particular shelter is located until we know what shelter to open.  The MOU doesn’t mean you will be used as a resource.  We need the flexibility.  We are thankful when we don’t have to use your facility.

What would happen if suddenly 300 people show up at the library following an announcement that it was being used as a cooling shelter?  Are there provisions for additional security?

We would pre-determine how many people you can handle.  If you get to 80%, then we are opening a shelter somewhere else, which all goes back to the importance of planning and communication.

How valuable would our partnership be to the community?

It would be extremely valuable because all of the residents in our community know exactly where the library is located. It always helps to say that you are in partnership with your community.  You are already a strong partner, this would make you even stronger.

Where do you get your information?

All of our information comes from the state and is vetted and consistent.

Washington County Free Public Library

Washington County Free Public Library

I could certainly see the need for having a librarian to come in during an Emergency Opperations Center (EOC) activation.  Keep in mind, that it’s not the nicest hours of the day.  It’s not a glamorous job.  It would certainly be an advantage to us, and we would be very happy to have librarians bring us information to help us do a better job; it is our role, however, to push that information out to the public.  Again, one voice; consistent and vetted.

Talk about the importance of Facilities and Security.

Your maintenance people are who we want to talk to, as they know everything about the building.  For instance, if you were willing to be a shelter, it would be your facilities people who would open the building.

What are the current trends in Emergency Management?

Family Assistance Centers to help unify families.  Also care of pets, which became a major issue after Katrina when many people wouldn’t leave their pets behind, as pets were not allowed in shelters. Prepare for your pets like you prepare for yourself. Remember, 72 hours.  Last summer we did a full-scale pet sheltering drill at the Agricultural Center.  The Hancock Fire Department has also offered to set up a pet tent shelter.

Where do we get disaster-specific information?  For instance if we wanted to pass on the most up-to-date information, how would we do that?

Information comes through our public information office or the emergency alerts. Make sure that our public information officer knows that you want to be on the list of recipients to receive the most current information.  You guys need to plan on how to disperse information that you are getting from our public information officer.

Final words?

If you want to be part of this, we would love to have you.  Can you enhance us?  Yes you can.  And we can enhance you as well.  Come join us.

A special thanks to Julie Zamostny for coordinating the event and to Shawn Stover and Verna Brown for their time and expertise.  It was a wonderful meeting. Finally, thanks to the National Library of Medicine and the NN/LM for their continued support. – Dan Wilson 


“The more prepared a community is, the faster it will recover and the quicker its economic base is back up and running.  Libraries play an important role in our community outreach efforts.” - Sara Ruch, Deputy Coordinator, Emergency Management Office, City of Hampton


The 2014  list of names for tropical storms (Atlantic) is the same as 2008, as names are recycled every six years . However, Gustav, Ike, and Paloma are missing, as they were so damaging that the World Meteorological Association took them off the list.  In their place are Gonzalo, Isaias, and  Paulette.