A Report of the DC SLA Military Librarians Program: Disaster Response – How Information Professionals Can Help

Elizabeth Norton, Dan Wilson, and Siobhan Champ-Blackwell

The DC SLA Military Librarians sponsored a program on disaster preparedness and response yesterday evening in the beautiful Charles Sumner School, Museum & Archives, in downtown Washington, DC.  Speakers included Elizabeth Norton, NLM Disaster Information Management & Research Center, Dan Wilson, Coordinator of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, and Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, Librarian, Aquilent, Inc, at NLM Disaster Information Management Research Center.

Ms. Norton kicked off the program with a presentation about the objectives of the Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), which include 1) organize and provide access to disaster health literature and resources, 2) develop emergency response tools, 3) conduct outreach and develop partnerships, including the support of disaster information specialists, and 4) conduct health IT research and development.  She spoke of NLMs disaster-related topics pages and the Resource Guide for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, and covered free disaster tools, such as WISER, CHEMM, REMM, and TOXNET.  She ended her presentation with a description of the NLM/MLA Disaster Information Specialization program and courses.  Question: What are your priorities of new tools going forward?  Answer: Looking at providing CHEMM within WISER and integrating the updated 2012 Emergency Response Guide.  In addition, we’d like to keep up with apps development.  Question: Is there a topics page for mental health?  Answer: Not yet, but is on the list. (Person asking the question offered to help develop the page.)  Question: How are you getting information out to the emergency management community?  Answer: We exhibit at their conferences. (Person asking the question offered to help push out the information.)

Mr. Wilson introduced the audience to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) and provided a background to the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan, which was activated in January 2008.  Following the background information, he spoke about the NN/LM EP&R Tookit, the one-page service continuity plan, the 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning training program, and the newly created 15 Elements of a Library at a High State of Readiness.  He then talked about an outreach project with the Library of Virginia and spoke about the importance of getting at least two of the following elements for successful outcomes: 1) a strong network, 2) a motivated audience, and 3) a shared geography.  Mr. Wilson ended his presentation talking about the NN/LM summit meetings in Miami and San Francisco.  Question: What are your plans for the future?  Answer: Create a training program around the 15 Elements of a Library at a High State of Readiness and develop an NN/LM Tornado Summit.  Question: Talk a little more about how much training you’ve done with the 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning and the type of response you have been getting.  Answer: The training program has been rolled out in all eight regions of NN/LM.  Training can be done by me, staff at NN/LM, or self-paced virtually.  (Most of the training is now being done by NN/LM staff.)  Response has been very positive from class participants.

Ms. Champ-Blackwell highlighted communication tools used by DIMRC, including their listserv, Twitter feed, and monthly teleconferences.  She then spoke about how NLM uses Hootsuite to manage their tweets.  She then spoke on “apps” and mobile optimized websites.  In addition, she explained what a native app is and briefly talked about the importance of gaining awareness about the different mobile platforms and operating systems.  Finally, she promoted the NLM Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mobile/index.html).  Question: You do a great job tweeting.  Is it from experience?  Do you have guidelines?  Answer: It’s a team effort.  First of all, we have a list of over 100 resources that we follow our twitter streams.  We push out NLM resources two times a day.  On Hootsuite you can schedule when your tweets go out, which I sometimes do while commuting to work on the bus.  We developed a spreadsheet of every page on the DIMRC site that we have linked to and we use go.usa.gov to shorten the URLs.  All of June’s two tweets per day are already scheduled.  We then focus time of doing the social part: the re-tweeting, and the thanks for tweeting our stuff.  Question: Where do you see Twitter two years from now?  How do you archive tweets?  Answer:  That’s a tough question and one that I’m working on, including exploring Twitter API.  Question: Some of us are not allowed to access Twitter or Facebook.  Any suggestions?  Participant response: We just got an exception.  It’s worth a try. Answer:  Develop a plan to present to your supervisors with a list of who you will follow, how you will use the account. I’ll share a list of approved DIMRC sources on the Disaster Outreach listserv that can be used to try to get exceptions.  Question: Following a disaster, if you see tweets from non-approved sources, can you do original reporting via Twitter?  Answer: Our job at NLM is to support other libraries who would like to send reports of resources during and following disasters.

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