“The more prepared a community is, the faster it will recover and the quicker its economic base is back up and running.  Libraries play an important role in our community outreach efforts.” - Sara Ruch, Deputy Coordinator, Emergency Management Office, City of Hampton

How Ready is Your Library?

We can help you better prepare your library for a disaster.  In addition, we can help you demonstrate great value to your community or institution by providing you with tools for becoming a partner in emergency preparedness & response planning.

Take this test.  How many of the items below are practiced at your library?  Want a better score?  Please contact us at 434-924-0193 or dtw2t@virginia.edu.

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A Call to Action

Last night I looked up and watched as four strangers applied splints to my arm and leg.  Another stranger applied pressure to my carotid artery to stem the bleeding.  They worked quickly and watched constantly for any changes in my condition.  I felt no pain throughout the process, as I was the volunteer victim during the final hands-on session of my eight-week CERT training course.  (CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team, a component of Citizens Corps, which is administered by FEMA.  In the United States, there are over 1,100 community CERT programs.)  My “victim” experience gave me a deep appreciation of the value of citizen volunteer groups, as they are likely the ones to provide initial treatment in the event of large-scale casualty situation.

Librarians can bring many skills to the emergency planning community.  In CERT alone, there is a great need for database managers, newsletter writers, web page maintainers, social media specialists, and information providers at call centers.  I am a member of the Info Team, a group of volunteers that takes non-emergency calls whenever the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) has been activated.  An example of the type of call the Info Team would receive is someone asking about the availability of pharmacies following a disaster.  I’ve also volunteered to provide assistance with social media, such as Twitter.

I highly encourage all librarians to explore ways to take part in emergency preparedness and response activities in their communities or institution.  Go to the Citizen Corps website (URL: http://www.citizencorps.gov/) and do a zip code search in the box labeled Find Your Local Council to find contact information for area Citizen Corps organizations.  In addition, you can find other volunteer groups by going to the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (URL: http://www.nvoad.org/states#sevend) and searching the Membership tab for your state.  Finally, if you want a higher level of training on providing access to information for emergency preparedness and response, check out the Disaster Information Specialization Program offered by the Medical Library Association and the National Library of Medicine (URL: http://www.mlanet.org/education/dis/).

Libraries and librarians are playing a greater role in emergency preparedness and response throughout our nation.  Emergency planners are recognizing our value and are working librarians and libraries into their planning strategies.  There is a place for each of us somewhere in those strategies.  All it takes is some time and commitment.  The rewards are immeasurable.


Highest State of Readiness

Here are the elements that would be in place at a library that exhibits the highest state of readiness.  The list is based on our experience along with information we provide in our training program.  It’s likely that very few libraries, if any, have achieved this state, but it provides a bar for all of us to aim for.  As we move into the new year, we will be searching for and highlighting any library that has achieved this esteemed status.Comprehensive Disaster Plan updated at least once a year

  1. Comprehensive Disaster Plan updated at least once a year
  2. Response station that includes posted response procedures and ready access to tools (e.g., flashlights, first aid kit, bullhorn, plastic, battery operated radio, etc.) for handling an emergency
  3. One-page Service Continuity Pocket Response Plan (PReP) updated at least quarterly
  4. Shelter-in-place location
  5. Communication plan that incorporates redundancy of means of communication (such as what to do if cell phones don’t work) and procedures for updating  website, Facebook page, and/or Twitter
  6. Service continuity team
  7. At least one scheduled evacuation drill per year
  8. At least one table-top exercise per year
  9. Library and/or librarians integrated into parent institution’s disaster plan
  10. Core print textbooks/materials identified and labeled or shelved together
  11. Servers with core online resources on unlimited emergency power
  12. Mutual Aid Agreements with other libraries or networks for delivery of core services
  13. Prioritized recovery list of all valuable and hard to replace materials
  14. Partnership (contract not required) with commercial salvage and recovery company (e.g., Belfor, BMS, Munters)
  15. 72-hour emergency kits at the homes of all members of service continuity team

New Feature: Virtual 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning

We now have a virtual 10-Step program!  The program, under 16 minutes, is broken down into an introduction and 10 individual steps, so it can be worked on as time permits.  In between some of the steps are assignments that, when completed, will greatly improve the readiness capabilities of your library.  Please feel free to offer your comments or suggestions.

Click on this URL and then look below the photographs: http://nnlm.gov/ep/10-stepsservice-continuity/.

For a taste of the program, here is the Introduction:




72-Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit & Plan

This year we are emphasizing the importance of having a 72-hour kit & plan for all library staff who are part of a service continuity team, because without a plan, staff are more likely to be focused on their needs, or their family’s needs, and not be able to take part in assuring that the library’s core resources and services remain available to your community following a disaster.  Earlier this week, I sent a message to our local American Red Cross (ARC) chapter about 72-hour preparedness training opportunities.  Here are some of the ARC resources referred to me by Mike Peoples, Preparedness Officer:

  • Community Disaster Education (CDE) courses through any local chapter.  Our CDE training isn’t really based on a pre-disaster count-down as much as the training being centered around working towards being prepared “whenever” a disaster occurs…the training includes discussion of the importance of making a family (or business) communication plan (so that family members have “designated rally points” when something goes wrong – either around the home, community, or wider world.   The training consists of a “series” of topics ranging from generic preparedness to event specific topics such as tornados, spring/winter storms, floods, hurricanes, home fires, wild fires, earthquakes, etc.
  • The “home page” for preparedness information can be found by clicking here.
  • If there are groups of folks (based on age, location, employment, etc.), someone from that group can contact their local chapter for additional information as well as to set up an actual CDE seminar based on the group’s interest (we’ve done them for businesses, seniors, boy scouts, schools, etc.!)
Here’s a video called “Let’s Make a Kit,” featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, an ARC volunteer: