CDC Info on Swine Flu

The CDC is updating this site frequently at this point, in order to help everyone stay current with the swine flu situation.  See the “CDC Health Advisory” on this page for the most current information.  I heard on NPR today that Mexico has closed churches, schools, concert halls, and other public spaces to try and slow the spread of the disease.  Should these social-distancing measures be enacted for public spaces, including libraries in the U.S., be aware of measures that libraries can take to keep resources and core services available to their patrons even if their buildings are closed.  Have an alternate home page ready, to show altered hours, to highlight online resources, and to offer online chat services to patrons who need help.  Also remember to change the voice mail message on your library’s main telephone to reflect changed hours and availability of online resources and services.

Here is more information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, available on their Pandemic Flu web site:  The Swine Flu Info widget from HHS is available there to be copied into web pages–this will provide quick access to “Information,” “Investigation,” and “What you can do” sources.

Off to the great Pacific Northwest

Dan Wilson and I will be in Seattle on Monday, February 9, to meet with Cathy Burroughs, her NN/LM staff, regional representatives and others at the Pacific Northwest Regional (PNR) office of NN/LM at the University of Washington.  In the morning, we will be reporting on recent developments of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response (EP&RP) initiative and facilitating discussion of regional issues.  In the afternoon, we will facilitate a “train-the-trainer” session for NN/LM staff and regional representatives to enable them to teach the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity ” to their Network members. 

Other training sessions scheduled for this spring include the South Central Region in Houston in March and the Greater Midwest Region in Chicago in April.   Stay tuned to hear when the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan will be playing at a site near you!

Dragonfly Image“Dragonfly” image from PNR’s newsletter.

New template available for “10 Steps” Planning

In the interest of helping NN/LM members to put together a concrete plan based on the “10 Steps to Service Continuity” training, I’ve created a template that members can use to draw up a basic plan for their libraries or information centers.  It is attached to the “10 Steps to Service Continuity” page here on the toolkit (see the menu bar above) as a Word document.  Anyone is welcome to download it and customize it at they see fit.  I hope it will serve as a good starting point for us in trying to meet our goal of having plans in place, and that it will be especially helpful to smaller libraries, hospital libraries, or other entities who may not need a comprehensive disaster plan.

The template is designed to focus on service continuity, but it does include space for some personal safety and preservation information.  My goal was to keep the template on standard size paper (8 1/2 x 11), so that nothing special would be required for printing.  I introduced the template to the Tidewater Health Sciences Librarians group two weeks ago, and in discussing it, we realized that the template would be a good thing to complete, print and post in our work areas, especially in smaller libraries that are minimally staffed, or staffed part-time by volunteers who would profit by having the information close by in an emergency.

The 10 Steps template is an addition to the other ones available here and elsewhere, such as PReP, dPlan, and the customized PReP developed by Julie Page and Deborah Halsted (see the Disaster Plan Templates page, menu above), and isn’t intended to replace any of them.  Rather, it is intended to provide another option, given that no two institutions are alike, and needs for emergency planning vary accordingly.  One of this year’s initiatives for NN/LM will be to focus on best ways to help hospital libraries, and we hope that the 10 Steps template will be a good start.

THSL workshop in Newport News, VA

Yesterday, Dan and I presented a workshop on the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan, including an overview of the plan and training in the “10 Steps to Service Continuity” to the Tidewater Health Sciences Librarians (THSL).  The group that gathered at the Health Sciences Library at Riverside School of Health Careers in Newport News, VA, was very interactive, sharing difficulties experienced in the past and asking some great questions about how to be best prepared for possible future emergencies.  Since their area of the state is in the floodplain for storm surge and wind damage from hurricanes, as well being exposed to other risks, they have good reason to focus on service continuity to their patrons.  See a picture of the group in the Picture Gallery here on the Toolkit.

Some excellent advice about TTEs (Table-Top Exercises)

Click here to see a page that gives an excellent explanation of what a table-top exercise is, and how to create and run one.  The author is Joe Olivo, of Strohl Consulting Services.  Joe is a Certified Business Continuity Planner, and while the page notes that he has consulted with financial institutions, law firms, and businesses, I think that his advice can be easily adapted for just about any type of institution, including libraries large and small.  It’s a good example of providing information that is general enough to be adapted, while specific enough to be helpful. 

I particularly like this part:  “Based upon the effectiveness of the pre-exercise meetings, the exercise will almost run by itself with team members knowing what has to be accomplished. Exercising is a primary means of training. In any actual recovery effort, the best team members are usually those who have participated in exercises.”

We are beginning monthly training sessions here at UVa’s HSL with staff who are responsible for emergency response, using a table-top exercise each month for a different scenario.  The first scenario was an epidemic of influenza, in which the library’s staffing was compromised.  We talked through how the library would be opened, how to determine if it should stay open, how core services would be maintained, how patrons would be notified if necessary.  We were able to address questions about communication and availablility of various resources, among others, and found the exercise to be quite helpful.  Our staff enjoyed working through the scenario, and felt better prepared to respond afterward.

Dan also used table-top exercises in training sessions for NN/LM’s RML staff and emergency response coordinators this year, and the exercises were very effective in helping everyone understand their roles and how the established plan would be implemented across a given scenario and by the various “players.”  Many thanks to Joe Olivo and Strohl for making this information available in such an accessible format.

Customized PReP form available

Those of us who viewed the MLA Fall webcast this week saw Julie Page showing a version of the Pocket Response Plan (PReP) from the Council of State Archivists that she and Deborah Halsted have customized for use by health sciences libraries.  Click on the link below  to access the form from the toolkit, and the form will also be added to the toolkit page, “Disaster Plan Templates/Samples.”

PReP form for HSLs