The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Library has their “Inclement Weather” page up on their website today, due to the winter weather sweeping across the South. Check it out here: http://www.library.uams.edu/inclement-weather.aspx. The page is a great example of how a library can be closed, yet still interact with its patrons and continue to provide the services they need. Note the variety of services that are still available, from self-service options like their 24 hour study spaces and Interlibrary Loan to direct research help by a librarian via email, and updates via FaceBook and Twitter.
Cara Breeden has let us know that the Bethesda Medical Libraries Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BMLEPP) held its third annual meeting on August 20 at Suburban Hospital. Quoting from Cara’s message: “At this yearly meeting, which is the extent of time required, members make any needed updates to the procedural and contact information contained in their BMLEPP reference binders. The Partnership is intended as an agile solution to problems member libraries might encounter, such as extended power outages. Even though it has not been necessary to acticvate the BMLEPP memorandum of understanding (MOU) to date, the Partnership has proved to be a valuable, and a low-maintenance effort.”
Cara also notes that the Bethesda, MD area “is unique in that it boasts five medical libraries within walking distance of each other: the National Library of Medicine, the National Institues of Health Library, the Suburban Hospital Medical Library, the National Naval Medical Center Stitt Library, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Learning Resource Center. The five libraries initiated the Bethesda Medical Libraries Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BMLEPP) on February 14, 2008.”
Cara has sent us the current version of the MOU which these five libraries have enacted, and it will be available for use as an example on the “Model MAA/MOU” page here in the Toolkit. Many thanks, Cara!
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- they made plans for scheduling virtual reference desk hours, to be provided from librarians’ homes
- 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.
Mary Congleton, the AHEC Librarian at the University of Kentucky Medical Library, taught the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning” at the recent meeting of the Kentucky Medical Library Association. She reports that the class was very well-received, and that the participants left with some ideas and tools for helping their libraries become better prepared for emergencies. (Participants also received MLA CE credit for completing the class.) Mary is the State Coordinator for Emergency Preparedness for Kentucky in the Greater Midwest Region of NN/LM. She has been asked to present the class again at the University, helping to spread the word about the importance of looking at risk, developing procedures, and making plans for continuing service to patrons in an emergency. Great work, Mary!
The flu.gov website provided by CDC has recently added content specifically about planning for H1N1 during this season of influenza. Among the many target audience groups they address are “Small Businesses” and “Institutions of Higher Education” (IHEs). While many of us are involved at IHEs, the information in that section is directed mostly to those who are preparing for implementation of policy, for managing student health, facilities maintenance, etc. The “Small Business” information, however, can apply very well to libraries, which are anticipating staff shortages and some impact to their day-to-day operations. In the section on “How to Write Your Plan,” there is some excellent guidance to help prepare for personnel issues that may arise when staff are ill or are caring for family members who are ill. The CDC recommends that anyone who has had any type of flu stay home for at least 24 hours after body temperature has returned to normal without the aid of fever-reducing medications, and they are anticipating that most people who become ill will be absent from work or school for 7 to 10 days. Something to think about!
We’ve added another resource to the Pandemic Planning page here on the Toolkit. Check out the “Pandemic Planning Table“ (available in both Word and PDF on the Pandemic Planning Page) for a descriptive and sequential method for developing an effective service continuity plan in the event of a global pandemic, such as the one we are facing now from the Novel H1N1 virus. The procedures shown in the table depict a schedule for pandemic preparedness. The table is loosely based on one from the World Health Organization (WHO), but the description of the levels has been adapted to suit this particular pandemic. While the WHO model is based on a virus that originates in animals (e.g. avian influenza), our model begins with a human-to-human novel virus. The procedures detailed in the Table we’ve created should be easily adaptable to just about any type of library. We welcome your comments and suggestions–what do you think?
The Toolkit has a new page to assist libraries taking part in pandemic planning. The page (click here to view) contains links to the CDC’s H1N1 site (including a link to follow the CDC Twitter content), as well as to several Word documents that contain information about pandemic planning, some service continuity issues that libraries may need to address, and a sample table-top exercise that can be used to assist in pandemic planning.
The focus of some of the content of the page is on academic health sciences libraries, but the content can be adapted to suit the needs of other types of libraries or institutions. We will continue to develop the page, adding relevant content as it emerges.