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Archive for the ‘Drills’ Category

Evacuate or Shelter in Place?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Leave or Stay












This is a great resource for deciding when to evacuate and when to shelter in place, and it can easily be customized for use at your library.  Post it to inform patrons and staff, and also use it as a tool for carrying out drills with your public services staff.  (Check with your safety officials first to ensure that it complies with their procedures.)  Kudos to the staff at the University of Virginia Office of Emergency Preparedness for putting it together.  Click on the image above to see the entire page.

Eccles Health Sciences Library and the Great Utah ShakeOut

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Claire Hamasu, Associate Director, NN/LM MidContinental Region, shares her experiences during the Great Utah Shakeout drill, which lasted three days, from April 17th to 19th.  This is a great example of the value of incorporating drills into your emergency planning strategy.

On a cool, rainy, overcast morning among good natured grumbling about “why couldn’t we choose a different day to have an earthquake”  the Great Utah ShakeOut  shook the Eccles Health Sciences Library. The Great Utah ShakeOut  ( was an earthquake drill that tested the state’s emergency response systems and, for the responders, lasted three days, April 17-19, 2012. For those of us in the library it lasted 45 minutes, from the time the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit at 10:15 am till we returned from the evacuation area at 11 am. The whole university participated, even construction workers building the new pharmacy building. In the health sciences center, only hospital employees providing direct patient care were exempt.

The official communication via text announcing the start of the drill didn’t reach everyone. There were library employees who did receive the message and communicated with others to “duck, cover and hold on.” As I was “cowering” under my desk, I used my cell phone to alert my designated contact in the RML to initiate the RML’s emergency plan. I let her know that we had just had an earthquake, I wasn’t able to provide the status of the rest of the staff, and the library would soon be evacuating.  The contact notified  the rest of the MCR staff about the drill in Utah. RML staff went through the pretend process of putting Eccles Health Sciences DOCLINE on hold and adding details to our emergency template message to go out on communication channels.

Library staff merged into the parade of colorful umbrellas walking to the designated evaluation area. I located the individuals reporting to me, noting that everyone had made it out of the library safely. I tried calling my contact to give her an update, but she couldn’t hear me. I sent her an email and later learned her computer was down so she didn’t receive the message.  

Some things we learned in the library. We needed to reinstitute a staff reporting system. People didn’t know who to notify that they had made it out safely. We have a collection of emergency reference books on a book truck. The triage location was set up down the road and a book truck is not a viable way to get the resources to the health care providers. We need a container that is totally enclosed and on wheels. The emergency contacts for libraries and museum meeting location needed to more centralized and closer to the emergency command center. If transportation and communication was down, this would reduce the distances people would have to walk and the environmental dangers they would encounter in order to produce a status report on the libraries and museums.

The RML reviews its emergency plan annually. Despite this regular review we discovered that much had changed with our communication tools. We need to revise how we use them, incorporating the new communications we now employ.  We also need to verify that staff is receiving messages from the disaster site.

Utah is overdue for its next big earthquake that happens every 30 years. Drills like this will ensure that we’re better prepared.

Claire Hamasu, Associate Director

NN/LM MidContinental Region

University of Utah Eccles Health Sciences Library

New TTE Page

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

What is a TTE, you ask?  TTE is the acronym for a key piece of emergency management and planning, the Table-Top Exercise.  Over the past three years, we’ve used various TTEs in our training with NN/LM members and other groups, and they are always motivating and effective.  They place people in roles in an emergency scenario and generate some very interesting and productive insights.  Check our new “Table-Top Exercises” page (or see the top menu) for more information about TTEs and for two exercises we’ve written to help get you started.

Library Table-Top Exercise in the Snowy South

Monday, February 15th, 2010

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.