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.

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?

Pandemic planning exercise

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 5, we convened a meeting at our library to review our pandemic plans and conduct a brief table-top exercise.  The meeting produced some excellent observations and insights, both for successes and things we need to work out.  The first half of the meeting was a review of our procedures, based the table (see below in the “Planning for Service Continuity During a Pandemic” post) from our library’s emergency preparedness plan.  All the “key players” attended, including:  the library’s emergency response coordinator, the library Director, IT manager, web development manager, business manager, head of reference services, collection development manager, database coordinator, ILL supervisor, and Circulation supervisor.  All these positions played roles in the planning and in the response exercise.  The scenario we used for the table-top exercise:  it is 3 PM on a Sunday afternoon, when the University decides to close all the libraries on campus to enact social-distancing measures.  The closure is intended to prevent the spread of influenza resulting from a pandemic.  What is done immediately?  What is done Monday morning?  Before beginning the discussion of procedures for this scenario, participants drew slips of paper from a bowl, which designated them as “sick” or “well.”  One-third of the participants were designated “sick,” and therefore did not play a role in the exercise.  This pointed out the need for back-up in certain key positions.

Some questions arose that might be helpful to others in the planning process, among them:

  • can you change the voice mail message on your library’s main phone from your home?  who has the authority and the access needed to do this?  who is the backup for that person?
  • who has current staff home phone number information?  is someone responsible for keeping the list upddated, and for distributing it?  should lists be given to everyone, or to select people?
  • do the appropriate library staff have access to the “Ask a Librarian” chat function from home?
  • do you need an official “voice” for providing information about the status of the library?  if so, will that person have access to communication channels, such as announcements on your web site?
  • can the person responsible for ILL/Document Delivery access resources needed to provide ILL requests to your patrons from home, i.e. is the required software installed on the home computer/laptop?
  • is there a provision for emergency access to print materials for affiliated patrons in the event of a patient-care emergency while the library is closed?
  • is there an institutional need for designating a way to account for time worked at home by library staff?  

Besides refining our procedures and identifying a few areas to be improved, everyone agreed that the meeting/exercise was an excellent way to keep emergency preparedness, and pandemic planning particularly, in our corporate awareness.

Planning for Service Continuity During a Pandemic

This would be a good time to review your pandemic planning procedures and perform a table-top drill.  For instance, are you ready to continue access to your resources and core services if your library is closed for, say, one week?  Click on the link below to view  a table from the University of Virginia’s Health Sciences Library’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan detailing the assignment of responsibilities in the event of a pandemic.  Feel free to borrow.

Pandemic Planning Responsibilities

Also, if you would like more information on the interlibrary loan backup plan developed by the University of Virginia Health Sciences Library and the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, please see the article in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of the Medical Library Association.