Library Table-Top Exercise in the Snowy South

We have heard from Jie Li, Assistant Director for Collection Management at the Biomedical Library, University of South Alabama in Mobile, that her library held a very successful table-top exercise prior to a predicted snow storm recently.  While a few inches of snow is not an emergency in the northern states where there’s snow removal equipment and snow tires on people’s cars, it can be paralyzing in a state that has not historically needed to be prepared for it.  Jie is the State Coordinator for Alabama on NN/LM’s Southeast Atlantic (SE/A) Region’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Committee, and she used her experience as an emergency preparedness planner to apply the service continuity techniques promoted by NN/LM to her library’s exercise, with very positive results.

  1. they made sure that a librarian working from home would have vendor information and the usernames and passwords necessary to trouble-shoot any access issues for their electronic resources
  2. their Technology Librarian would be able to upload messages to the library’s home page about changes to hours and service provision from home, and also sent instructions about using chat, email, etc. for providing reference services
  3. the ILL librarian shut down ILL lending and would access DOCLINE from home for borrowing.  Access to ILLiad was also enabled from the librarian’s home.
  4. they made plans for scheduling virtual reference desk hours, to be provided from librarians’ homes
  5. they sent their completed Pocket Plans (PReP) and current telephone tree lists to everyone via email

Jie reported that the exercise helped them be prepared for the storm, which did close the library for part of the next day.  They were ready and able to provide virtual reference help and continued access to their electronic resources, as well as communicating to their patrons what the library’s hours would be and how to get help.  Many thanks to Jie for sharing their experience with us.  Hearing such great success stories is an inspiration to all of us involved in emergency preparedness and response, and reminds us that it takes only a bit of planning and communication to turn a potential emergency into a win-win situation for the library and its patrons.

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