IT Planning and Service Continuity

A new report from Info-Tech Research Group specifies four areas that IT departments should address in order to prepare for an infectious disease outbreak, such as H1N1.

1. Collaboration tools and technologies: a web conferencing tool to allow employees to communicate with each other.
2. Enterprise and desktop applications: home access to workplace applications.
3. Service desk tools and desktop support: IT support for remote workers.
4. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and virtual desktops: broadband access.

Is your library addressing these issues?  Regarding web conferencing tools, does your institution provide an enterprise solution?  If not, you can do some research on your own about fee-based or free web conferencing tools.

MC/MLA Chapter Meeting

At last week’s annual meeting of the Midcontinental Chapter/Medical Libraries Association in Breckenridge, Colorado, Dan Wilson and the staff of the MCR/NNLM presented a workshop on the 10 steps to service continuity.  Dan introduced the concept of service continuity and risk assessment and then each MCR liaison presented a step to the group by going around the room to different tables where participants were seated.  (See photos in Picture Gallery.)  Feedback about the presentation model was very positive.

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Progress in Alabama

Thanks to a grant from the Southeastern/Atlantic Region of the NN/LM, an Emergency Preparedness & Service Continuity meeting was held before the annual meeting of the Alabama Health Libraries Association (ALHeLA) last week in Mobile, Alabama.  Featured were Dr. Ronald Franks, Vice President for Health Sciences and Beverly Kellen, Practice Director, Student Health, University of South Alabama, who shared their thoughts on pandemic influenza planning.   In addition, Dan Wilson, coordinator, NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, presented “A 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning,” and Beth Wescott, Network Access Coordinator for SE/A, spoke about services and support offered by the RML.

Much progress was made at the meeting.  All participants agreed to complete a service continuity PReP plan for their library and to participate in a future statewide table-top exercise.  Thanks to Jie Li, Assistant Director for Collection Management, University of South Alabama Biomedical Library, for organizing the event!

Beth Wescott

Assessing your preparedness for H1N1

Here at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, our pandemic planning group met earlier this week to assess the status of our preparedness for possible changes to staffing and operations in the event of the anticipated surge in H1N1 and seasonal influenza.  We are attaching the document that resulted from the discussion at the meeting, in case it will be helpful to others who may also be in the planning process.  To see the document, click on the “Pandemic Planning” tab above and find the link to “Pandemic plan CMHSL public” on that page.

H1N1 Planning Info from CDC

The flu.gov website provided by CDC has recently added content specifically about planning for H1N1 during this season of influenza.  Among the many target audience groups they address are “Small Businesses” and “Institutions of Higher Education” (IHEs).  While many of us are involved at IHEs, the information in that section is directed mostly to those who are preparing for implementation of  policy, for managing student health, facilities maintenance, etc.   The “Small Business” information, however, can apply very well to libraries, which are anticipating staff shortages and some impact to their day-to-day operations.  In the section on “How to Write Your Plan,” there is some excellent guidance to help prepare for personnel issues that may arise when staff are ill or are caring for family members who are ill.  The CDC recommends that anyone who has had any type of flu stay home for at least 24 hours after body temperature has returned to normal without the aid of fever-reducing medications, and they are anticipating that most people who become ill will be absent from work or school for 7 to 10 days.  Something to think about!

Pandemic planning schedule for libraries

We’ve added another resource to the Pandemic Planning page here on the Toolkit.  Check out the “Pandemic Planning Table” (available in both Word and PDF on the Pandemic Planning Page) for a descriptive and sequential method for developing an effective service continuity plan in the event of a global pandemic, such as the one we are facing now from the Novel H1N1 virus.  The procedures shown in the table depict a schedule for pandemic preparedness.  The table is loosely based on one from the World Health Organization (WHO), but the description of the levels has been adapted to suit this particular pandemic.  While the WHO model is based on a virus that originates in animals (e.g. avian influenza), our model begins with a human-to-human novel virus.  The procedures detailed in the Table we’ve created should be easily adaptable to just about any type of library.  We welcome your comments and suggestions–what do you think?

SE/A EP&R Committee Meets in Tampa

The Emergency Preparedness & Response Committee for the Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A) of NN/LM met at the Embassy Suites near the University of South Florida, in Tampa, FL on July 14, amongst live oak trees with Spanish moss and crepe myrtle trees in full bloom–a Southern summer in full swing!  To see the State Coordinators, check out the picture in the Photo Gallery (not pictured–the West Virginia Coordinator).  In addition to the Region’s State Coordinators for emergency preparedness, the SE/A RML was represented by Executive Director Janice Kelly and Network Coordinator and Emergency Preparedness & Response Coordinator Beth Wescott.  During the morning session, the group heard an overview and updates on the past year’s progress of the NN/LM National Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan from Dan Wilson, Coordinator of the National plan.  Following Dan’s presentation, all state coordinators reported on the status of preparedness in their areas, which had all been fortunate during the past year, having escaped major damage or service disruption from hurricanes or tornadoes, two of the highest risks for the region.  Following the state reports from Maryland, D.C., West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Puerto Rico, all the state coordinators participated in the “train the trainer” session for the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning” for health sciences libraries and information centers, providing some excellent feedback on the new curriculum materials.  SE/A representatives scored high, almost across the board, in the risk assessment exercise, due to the number of weather-related risks as well as port cities, and chemical and nuclear facilities. 

During and after lunch, Dan facilitated a discussion about issues to be addressed in the region such as methods of communication, “buddy library” relationships, and the roles of the RML and the state coordinators.   The consensus was that the group is well-positioned for continued progress with regard to promoting emergency preparedness in the states and across the region, and plans are underway for hosting and teaching classes and representing the initative within local and regional groups.