Pandemic Planning Page

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.

Advancing the Standard for Service Continuity

Recently, Dan has made two presentations, as an invited speaker, that featured the importance of service continuity planning for libraries, and in both cases he used the scenario of social distancing in response to the H1N1 influenza virus (see info from the CDC) as a basis.  Some experts are warning that H1N1 may re-surge in the northern hemisphere early this fall, well before the tradional flu season, so it’s important that we remain aware of the potential risks from a more widespread epidemic than we have seen so far, and that we keep the banner of service continuity moving forward.

On July 9, Dan addressed the monthly conference call hosted by NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), giving an overview of this year’s activities of the NN/LM’s emergency preparedness initiative, and featuring the Hospital Librarians Summit which was held in Chicago in April (click here to see the posting about this).  Other highlights of this year have been conducting training meetings with NN/LM staff and state coordinators in the PNR, SCR, GMR, PSR and SE/A regions, enhancing the Toolkit, and developing promotional materials.  Several participants on the call confirmed that the training has been very effective so far, and “buy-in” from NN/LM members has been excellent.

On July 17, Dan addressed the annual Interlibrary Loan Forum of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) at Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, VA.  Working from the NN/LM’s emergency preparedness plan, which emphasizes service continuity, especially for Interlibrary Loan services, Dan presented the procedures that have been established through a partnership between the Health Sciences Libraries at the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for providing back-up ILL services for each other in an emergency, and which are transparent to library users.  While the audience represented all types of academic libraries in Virginia, it included several who are NN/LM members.  Click ILL Backup Plan VIVA to see Dan’s slides from the VIVA Forum.

If you would like more information about the ILL backup plan between the two libraries or about training for service continuity, please contact one of us (see the “About Us” tab at the top of the page).

“One-shelf” disaster library

Recently, Dan put out a query to the Disaster Information Outreach Listserv, asking subscribers to consider what print books they would want to keep available for use after a disaster which affects internet accessibility, and to send him their lists.  After compiling responses, he came up with the “one-shelf disaster library” pictured below.  (Click the image to see the larger version and to see the titles.)  Obtaining this informal consensus and identifying these core texts is a great first step toward helping health sciences libraries determine which materials they may want to keep in print, since so many are becoming “virtual only.”

Many thanks to the participants who responded, and to NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center for providing the forum for gathering this important information.  If anyone did not yet respond to the original question and would like to contribute, feel free to send email to me or to Dan (see the “Who we are” tab above for email addresses).  Preparedness is an ongoing and iterative process!

One-shelf disaster library

“10-Step Approach…” class now available as MLA CE course

The “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning” class, created by the Coordinator and Project Assistant for the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan, has been approved by the Medical Library Association (MLA) for 2 hours of Continuing Education credit, awarded at the conclusion of the class.  To view information about the class, check here on the MLA Educational Clearinghouse site.  (You can find the class by using “emergency” as the keyword in the search box on the first page of the site.)   If you are interested in arranging a “10-Step Approach…” class for yourself or a group, contact your NN/LM regional office at 1-800-338-7657.  Classes are offered both face-to-face and virtually.

Emergency Preparedness in the Pacific Southwest Region

We met last week (June 22) with NN/LM staff from the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) in the Louise Darling Biomedical Library at UCLA, along with representatives from the states in their region (see the photo of state representatives in the gallery here on the site).  Attending for the states were:  Amy Knehans from Hawaii, Cinda McClain from Arizona, Triza Crittle from Nevada, and Chapter liaisons Peggy Tahir and Irene Lovas from California.   After an overview of progress of the national plan and reports from the state representatives and NN/LM staff, we presented the recently developed curriculum for use by NN/LM staff in training members in the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity,” which now includes a new risk assessment exercise and score sheet handout (thanks to the South Central Region for the encouragement to develop this idea!).

Judy Consales, Director, and Julie Kwan, Network Coordinator of the PSR taught a class called “Are You Ready?” in Hawaii, presenting both face-to-face and using AccessGrid, which was quite successful.  In addition to outreach efforts, Heidi Sandstrom, Associate Director, noted that their library has also continued to develop emergency preparedness plans, having recently enhanced signage and room numbers/designations to help with evacuations and troubleshooting in their building.  Jake Nadal, of the UCLA Library’s Preservation Department, spoke to the group about UCLA’s efforts to provide continuous access to digital resources as well as how to plan for preservation of print materials and other library resources.  The day closed with a discussion of goals for the region during the coming year, as well as some questions and ideas to be addressed, as outlined by Heidi.

Once again, we were energized by the excellent collaborative spirit of the NN/LM staff and the state representatives from the PSR, and benefitted from hearing about their successes as well as ideas for improvement of the plan and the resources offered (e.g. the Toolkit and the training materials).  The PSR training meeting was our last NN/LM staff meeting for this contract year, and we can say without reservation that NN/LM Directors, Associate Directors, all NN/LM staff, and the state representatives have been unfailingly enthusiastic, hospitable, creative, and committed to including emergency preparedness in their outreach to NN/LM members.

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Pandemic planning exercise

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 5, we convened a meeting at our library to review our pandemic plans and conduct a brief table-top exercise.  The meeting produced some excellent observations and insights, both for successes and things we need to work out.  The first half of the meeting was a review of our procedures, based the table (see below in the “Planning for Service Continuity During a Pandemic” post) from our library’s emergency preparedness plan.  All the “key players” attended, including:  the library’s emergency response coordinator, the library Director, IT manager, web development manager, business manager, head of reference services, collection development manager, database coordinator, ILL supervisor, and Circulation supervisor.  All these positions played roles in the planning and in the response exercise.  The scenario we used for the table-top exercise:  it is 3 PM on a Sunday afternoon, when the University decides to close all the libraries on campus to enact social-distancing measures.  The closure is intended to prevent the spread of influenza resulting from a pandemic.  What is done immediately?  What is done Monday morning?  Before beginning the discussion of procedures for this scenario, participants drew slips of paper from a bowl, which designated them as “sick” or “well.”  One-third of the participants were designated “sick,” and therefore did not play a role in the exercise.  This pointed out the need for back-up in certain key positions.

Some questions arose that might be helpful to others in the planning process, among them:

  • can you change the voice mail message on your library’s main phone from your home?  who has the authority and the access needed to do this?  who is the backup for that person?
  • who has current staff home phone number information?  is someone responsible for keeping the list upddated, and for distributing it?  should lists be given to everyone, or to select people?
  • do the appropriate library staff have access to the “Ask a Librarian” chat function from home?
  • do you need an official “voice” for providing information about the status of the library?  if so, will that person have access to communication channels, such as announcements on your web site?
  • can the person responsible for ILL/Document Delivery access resources needed to provide ILL requests to your patrons from home, i.e. is the required software installed on the home computer/laptop?
  • is there a provision for emergency access to print materials for affiliated patrons in the event of a patient-care emergency while the library is closed?
  • is there an institutional need for designating a way to account for time worked at home by library staff?  

Besides refining our procedures and identifying a few areas to be improved, everyone agreed that the meeting/exercise was an excellent way to keep emergency preparedness, and pandemic planning particularly, in our corporate awareness.

Planning for Service Continuity During a Pandemic

This would be a good time to review your pandemic planning procedures and perform a table-top drill.  For instance, are you ready to continue access to your resources and core services if your library is closed for, say, one week?  Click on the link below to view  a table from the University of Virginia’s Health Sciences Library’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan detailing the assignment of responsibilities in the event of a pandemic.  Feel free to borrow.

Pandemic Planning Responsibilities

Also, if you would like more information on the interlibrary loan backup plan developed by the University of Virginia Health Sciences Library and the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, please see the article in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of the Medical Library Association.