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.

Chicago Summit 2011 for NN/LM EP&R Initiative

Representatives from all eight NN/LM regions met at the Library of the Health Sciences on the University of Illinois/Chicago (UIC) campus on Friday, April 8, to hear about progress of the NN/LM National Emergency Preparedness and Response Initiative to date, to share updates from all the regions, and to discuss possible future objectives.  In addition to NN/LM Associate Directors and State Emergency Preparedness Coordinators, Cindy Love of the Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) and Cindy Olney, of NN/LM’s Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) attended and spoke to the group.

It was exciting to hear about the many accomplishments of the NN/LM regions in educating members in emergency preparedness;  great work everyone!  Cindy Olney presented the results of this year’s follow-up assessment conducted by OERC, which showed improvement in the levels of knowledge and preparedness for emergency response for members across the regions since the baseline assessment was done in 2008.  Many thanks to Cindy Olney and Susan Barnes, also of OERC, for their work in helping us see what has been done well and what still needs to be done!  Dan has added a couple of photos from the meeting to the “Photos” section here on the toolkit.  Many thanks also to Ruth Holst and her staff in the NN/LM Greater Midwest Region’s office at UIC, especially Rosalva Diaz and Max Anderson, for hosting the meeting and for facilitating food, handouts, wireless access, and dozens of other aspects of a successful meeting.

Disaster Information Outreach Symposium Re-cap

Over two hundred people gathered last week in Bethesda, MD on the campus of the National Library of Medicine and at the Marriott Bethesda North hotel for two days of immersion in information service needs and provision in times of emergency or disaster.  “Disaster Information Outreach:  A Symposium for Information Professionals Meeting Disaster Health Information Needs,” was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 29-30, and provided by the Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), Specialized Information Services, National Library of Medicine.
 
Stacey Arneson, Cindy Love and others at  DIMRC did an outstanding job of gathering well-qualified speakers from an array of backgrounds and experiences, all of whom presented valuable insights and lessons learned, and answered questions from the large crowd at each session.  Equally helpful were the great networking opportunities provided during breaks and at the evening session for catching up with colleagues, meeting new acquaintances in the world of emergency planning, and visiting with representatives from emergency management organizations from the area.  One of the groups was Girl Scout Troup 5127 of Potomac, MD, who shared with us their accomplishment of having been awarded the “Emergency Preparedness Patch”–and their motto for this activity:  “Don’t be scared; be prepared.”  Many thanks to everyone at DIMRC and NLM who contributed to the planning and execution of the symposium for these wonderful two days.  If you weren’t able to attend or to listen to the webcast “live,” check the symposium site at http://disaster.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/symposium2011.html in the next few days to see the archived version.

SE/A Emergency Preparedness & Response Committee Meeting

The Southeastern/Atlantic Region’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Committee met on November 17th, the day after the annual SC/MLA conference. Following Janice Kelly’s introduction, Dan Wilson and PJ Grier opened the meeting by reporting on national and regional progress, followed by each state coordinator reporting on accomplishments in their state. The committee then conducted a table-top exercise designed to raise awareness of preparedness and backup capabilities. After lunch, Joanne Romano, Licensing and Serials Librarian at the Houston Academy of Medicine, Texas Medical Center Library, presented on her experience writing disaster clauses into licensed materials. Finally, the committee discussed future goals and objectives. Much was accomplished and everyone walked away with new ideas.

Here’s a picture of the committee members (click on image to enlarge):

The Hickory Movement

Yesterday’s conference, What About the Library? The Value of Libraries Before and After a Major Disaster, was a big success. Speakers included Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian, State Library of Louisiana, Kevin Pannell, Emergency Planner for the Virginia Department of Health, and Anna McCray, Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Management for Henrico County. Also included was a table-top exercise facilitated by Dan Wilson.

The conference took place at the Twin Hickory Branch of the Henrico County Public Library. Dan used a quote from a U.S. Forestry Service pamphlet about the hickory tree and used it as an analogy for what we are determined to build across Virginia: “the combination of strength, toughness, hardness, and stiffness found in hickory wood is not found and any other commercial wood.” Christened The Hickory Movement, participants at the conference are encouraged to promote the value of libraries and librarians in emergency preparedness and response activities across Virginia.

The conference was sponsored by the Library of Virginia and funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Human Services, with the University of Maryland Baltimore.

Rebecca Hamilton

Kevin Pannell

Anna McRay

Dan Wilson and Speakers

Progress in the Palmetto State

Felicia Yeh, NN/LM SE/A State Coordinator from South Carolina, reports that their Community Disaster Response: the Role of Public Libraries conference was a great success. The conference was held on Tuesday, April 27th, and involved over 70 participants. Guest speakers included Joe Ryan, Project Manager, Hurricane/Disaster Preparedness and Response by Utilizing Florida Public Libraries Project, Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian, State Library of Louisiana, Dwight McInvaill, Director, Georgetown County Library, and Sam Hodge, Emergency Manager, Georgetown County Emergency Management. Funding for the conference was provided by NN/LM SE/A and was sponsored by several agencies, including South Carolina Emergency Management Division, South Carolina State Library, University of South Carolina, and Richland County Public Library. Felicia stresses that the success of the conference was due to great team responsible for the program and local arrangements. Ruth Riley, Director of Library Services, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, was also instrumental in the program. She will be presenting a poster about the conference at MLA in Washington, DC. Great work, South Carolina!