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.

Library of Virginia Partnership

This morning I presented with Cindy Church at the Virginia Library Association Paraprofessional Forum.  Cindy, Continuing Education Consultant at the Library of Virginia (LoV), has been working with us since the summer of 2010 when we needed a strong network to sponsor an EP&R conference we were planning for the state of Virginia.  Partnering with Cindy and the LoV afforded us the five elements below, which proved to be a major factor in the successful completion of our project.  If you work with outreach programs, it might behoove you to consider partnering with you state library.

  1. Marketing
  2. Cultural awareness
  3. Communications
  4. Registration
  5. Logistics

Cindy Church and Dan Wilson. Photo by Susan Yowell

 

Eccles Health Sciences Library and the Great Utah ShakeOut

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  (http://www.shakeout.org/utah/) 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

NN/LM Earthquake Summit Very Brief Report

Here is a very brief report of the NN/LM Earthquake Summit that was held on Friday, April 6th, at the University of California/San Francisco Library and Center for Knowledge Management.  A full report will be distributed by the end of April.

Dan Wilson, Coordinator for the NN/LM National Emergency Preparedness &   Response Initiative:  Dan gave a background of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative and then talked about the NN/LM EP&R Toolkit, one-page pocket response plan, training opportunities, and promotional activities.

Keith Knudsen, Deputy Director of the Earthquake Science Center for the U.S. Geological Survey:  Keith used many USGS maps and charts to illustrate earthquake risks for the Bay Area and the West Coast of the United States.

Monica Gowan, PhD Candidate, University of Canterbury: Monica illustrated the psychological aspects of an earthquake through stories and photographs of recent earthquakes in New Zealand.  

Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) of the National Library of Medicine:  Siobhan gave an overview of NLM products available to first responders, such as WISER, REMM, and CHEMM, and talked about other NLM initiatives, including the Emergency Access Initiative and the Disaster Specialist continuing education program offered through the Medical Library Association. 

Randy Brawley, FEMA Preparedness Planning Analyst:  Randy spoke about the roles FEMA plays before, during, and after a disaster and offered many suggestions that librarians can use to play a greater role in disaster preparedness and response.

Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, San Francisco Public Library System:  Roberto provided an inside look into COOP Planning at the San Francisco Public Library System and offered many tips for improving library readiness.

Roberto Lombardi, Facilities Director, San Francisco Public Library

Report of the NN/LM Hurricane Summit

Click on the link or the image below to see our report of the NN/LM Hurricane Summit.  It’s very visual, in order to give the reader a feel for not just the content of the Summit but also the speakers and the venue.  Background information on some of the speakers and their past research is provided through hyperlinks, and contact information is available at the end of each section.  The Takeaways page lists key elements of the Summit that can be used to explore further research.

Featured Speakers

Raymond Santiago: COOP planning for the Miami/Dade Public Library System
MaryEllin Santiago: Experiences as project director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Gulf Coast Libraries Project
Mary Moore: University of Miami Health Sciences Library’s participation in Haiti earthquake relief
Tony Gonzalez: Emergency planning activities at the Miami/Dade Department of Public Health
Michelle Malizia: Survey of public libraries and disaster response

NNLM Hurricane Summit

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