Suggestion #12: Observe, inquire, document, follow-up. There’s nothing like an actual emergency situation to make you think through how well your response procedures work. In the summer of 2005, our area experienced a severe thunderstorm one afternoon that caused tornado-like damage in our area. The wind was strong enough to drive sheets of water into our Historical Collections area around the edges of a door that was closed and locked, and the power went off and stayed off for hours. The next day, reports came in from all departments about problems they had encountered, such as not having emergency lighting in staff areas, no flashlights in the dark areas, not being able to lock doors with magnetic locks when we closed early, since the power was off. These problems engendered a more active follow-up, superseding the normal Reporting procedure due to its widespread nature. As a “reality check,” it was a blessing in disguise, because it pointed out many areas in which we needed to make improvements, but did not cause any injury or serious harm. So take advantage of any incidents your library experiences, and get as much information as possible from people who were on the scene.
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