Incidents indicate variety of emergencies

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.

On the same page

It’s good to be “on the same page” with an organization like Heritage Preservation!  Check out their “Do One Thing” initiative for May Day (May 1) this year.  They encourage all libraries and cultural institutions to take some of the same actions the NN/LM is recommending to its members in its “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity,” such as prioritizing collections for rescue, establishing relationships with “buddy” institutions, etc.  They also mention that their Disaster Wheel and accompanying Field Guide are on sale at a special price for May Day.  These materials have been highly recommended to NN/LM members throughout the training sessions in emergency preparedness and response that have been offered over the past year and a half.

The Heritage site also notes that even though hurricane “season” doesn’t start until June 1, our continent is already experiencing severe weather and flooding, noting that a disaster can happen at any time and in any place.  If you visit their site, you might enjoy looking around a bit while you are there.  Heritage Preservation (a partner with FEMA) is an excellent resource for all things preservation and recovery for collections.  Where the NN/LM emergency preparedness initiative complements Heritage is its focus on service continuity to patrons in terms of providing health related information.