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.

A 10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning

On Tuesday, July 15, Dan Wilson presented an overview of service continuity planning to over 70 members of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM). The presentation was hosted by the Middle Atlantic Regional Office of NN/LM and was delivered via Adobe Connect. Topics included are risk assessment, determining core services and resources, strategies for maintaining services from a remote site, and protection of unique resources.

Click here to view the slides from Dan’s presentation.

SE/A Emergency Preparedness & Response Training


The NN/LM SE/A RML staff, representatives from the University of Maryland HSHSL, Angela Ruffin (Director, NN/LM National Network Office) and Barbara Nicholson (Technology Librarian, NN/LM National Network Office) met at the University of Maryland HSHSL on Friday, March 14, 2008 to hear about and to discuss the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan. The day’s agenda included:

  • PowerPoint presentation by Dan, showing images of disasters in the SE/A region, identifying risks to the region, and introducing the NN/LM preparedness plan
  • discussion of regional issues to be addressed as part of the plan roll-out: use of the online toolkit, opportunities within the region for training (SOLINET), options for DOCLINE use
  • identification of other risks inherent to the SE/A region besides hurricanes and severe weather: proximity to nuclear power plants, military installations, Washington, DC, terrorist acts and bioterrorism
  • service continuity training: identified roles of RML staff in the planning process for the region, discussed coordination based on the eight steps recommended in the guide available from the toolkit
  • table-top exercise in the afternoon using a given scenario and coordinating the appropriate response among staff present at the meeting and member librarians via conference telephone
  • discussion of preparedness, response and training goals for the region

The RML staff made plans to add depth to their coverage for some functions, such as changing DOCLINE status for member libraries in an emergency. They plan to introduce the plan and encourage the development of partnerships within the regional hospital library consortia at their meetings. Details of the meeting content will be available in the final report to the National Network Office of the NN/LM.

Presentations Now Available

Click here to access my PowerPoint presentations for the following meetings:

Tennessee Health Science Library Association Meeting (THeSLA), Nashville, September 2007 Middle Atlantic Region of the NN/LM RAC Meeting, New York, February 2008 Southeastern Atlantic Region of the NN/LM Office Training, Baltimore, March 2008 Pacific Northwest Region of the NN/LM Office Staff Training, Seattle, March 2008.

Disaster Information Management Research Center

There is now a link to the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Toolkit from the home page of the Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC). (Click on Libraries and Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery.) DIMRC is a component of the National Library of Medicine and provides “disaster health information resources and informatics research that will [directly benefit] public health officials, healthcare providers, special populations, and the public.”


SOLINET is offering a new online class called Security Alert! How to Protect People, Property and Collections. The emphasis of the class is on the basics of securing collections and safeguarding people. Click here for further information.