Recently, there have been several stories in the news about emergencies or disasters that have befallen libraries, most notably the flooding in Louisville, KY, which devastated the lower level of the Louisville Free Public Library (story here), destroying “tens of thousands” of books, and several vehicles, including two bookmobiles.
Other stories include one about a public library in Scotch Plains, NJ, which was stuck by a car that veered off the street nearby and took out a wall in the children’s collection area (story here). Even though the incident happened while the library was open, no one inside the library was injured, and aside from the wall of the building and the shelving that was destroyed, even the collection escaped significant damage. The librarian was very grateful to the first responders from the fire department and police, as well as the public works personnel who helped after the emergency. The article noted that the library had installed tempered glass windows, which did not break on impact–a helpful thing to think about if your building is located close to a road.
In Fort Lauderdale, FL, the main public library sustained water damage last week when their overhead sprinkler system was being tested, accidentally releasing water that flowed down through an atrium to the lower level (story here). The variety of this particular spate of emergencies affecting libraries highlights the fact that even though we believe that preparedness activities are important, we really can’t anticipate everything! However, in each case, the library’s leadership and staff managed the situation well and coordinated with outside responders to help mitigate the effects. The Director of the Louisville Free Public Library, Craig Buthod, says their best lesson learned is to “hire good people,” commending his own staff as well as the mitigation contractor for their good work.
Many thanks to Kathy Murray, who is the Alaska State Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Region of NN/LM, for sending us a report about a recent incident in her library. Check out our “Reporting Forms” page to see her report and learn about what happened (did you know there may be glycol in the HVAC lines in your building?) and how they kept their core services up and running despite the damage from the leak.
Claire Hamasu, Associate Director of the MidContinental Region of NN/LM at Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah in Salt Lake City, has sent us the recently implemented documentation developed by their library’s emergency preparedness team. It looks great, and we expect it will be really helpful to NN/LM members as an example of emergency/disaster planning for any type of library. They have provided their version of the Pocket Response Plan (PReP) (originally devised by the Council of State Archivists–see the “Disaster Plan Templates” page above) as well as a photo and the content of a flip-chart they designed for display in the library. The flip-chart provides quick and easy access to the key parts of their plan, while the PReP provides their staff with an easy-to-carry concise version of their plan for use from off-site.
We appreciate the willingness of the emergency preparedness team at Eccles HSL to share their work with us, and congratulate them on a job well done! See the “Disaster Plan Templates” page above to check out their documents. Many thanks to Claire for reporting her library’s progress and sending us these great ideas!
I’ve re-titled the Toolkit page that was called “First Aid Kit.” The page is now called “Ready Reference.” While the page can still function as “First Aid” for those of us coordinating emergency responses, it needed a new name in order to keep internet searchers from finding the NN/LM EP & R Toolkit when they wanted to find boxes with band-aids and alcohol swabs in them. I also enhanced the Ready Reference page a bit, adding the full text of the NN/LM EP&R Plan and the flowcharts for preparedness and response, and will be on the lookout for other key items for preparedness and response. In fact, the Ready Reference page is, in essence, a toolkit within the toolkit.