Is Your Library Disaster Ready?

Featured

1314070833_e95cc41498_b

Take the test.  Answer Yes or No to the 15 elements of a library at a state of disaster readiness listed below.  How many times did you respond with a Yes?  Want a better score?  Our training program can create a disaster readiness culture in your library.  In addition, we can help you become part of your community’s emergency planning strategy by connecting you with emergency planners. Want more information? Contact Dan Wilson, Coordinator, NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, at 434-924-0193 or dtw2t@virginia.edu.  You may also contact your regional NN/LM library at 1-800-DEV-ROKS.

Here are some libraries we’ve worked with in the past year:
Washington County Free Library (Maryland)
West Deptford Public Library (New Jersey)
Eastern Shore Regional Library (Maryland)
New Jersey State Library

Continue reading

Planning not to be a victim

Ready.gov has developed some great tools to assist us with our own personal preparedness measures.  Completing their suggested plans will go a long way toward preventing us, our families, and even our pets from becoming victims who need rescuing rather than people who are prepared to deal with an emergency and provide help to others, whether it’s our neighbors or our work place and patrons who need help.

Especially check out the “My Family Emergency Plan.”  Clicking on the “Go” link there pulls up a sequential form you can fill out and which will result in a PDF document you can download and/or print for your family.  (My only problem with it is that there is enough room for only two pets, and I will have to add our third dog and our four horses as my children, which is perfectly fitting given the lives they lead.)  At the end of the emergency plan is the opportunity to print out emergency cards for family members to carry.  Very cool tools!

15 years ago in Northridge, CA

In January of 1994, the Northridge area of California was shaken by a level 6.7 earthquake, which devastated the area, including California State University at Northridge. See Susan Curzon’s story of the destruction of her library at CSU, and how they responded by getting services back up and running in temporary shelters and with limited staffing. (This story and more are available from the “Library Disaster Stories” page here on the toolkit.)

Earthquake damage to the rear side of the Oviatt Library.  Image from Susan Curzon's story.

Earthquake damage to the rear side of the Oviatt Library. Image from Susan Curzon's story.

Today, in the “Emergency Preparedness News” section in the left column of the toolkit, you can see a story about the earthquake drill that is scheduled for Stanford University in early February. It is interesting to see how well their preparedness planners have used the lessons learned from previous incidents in their area and have planned the drill to deal with issues they know they will face when the next quake occurs.

The toolkit has two additional resources for preparedness and risk assessment related specifically to earthquakes. (1) See the “Earthquakes” RSS feed available in the list of RSS feeds on the left, and (2) under “Risk Assessment Maps and Charts” on the right, see the Earthquake map produced by the USGS showing earthquake probability for all of the U.S. The USGS says that over 75 million people live in earthquake-prone zones in the U.S., which affect 39 states.

Seasons and Hazards

As we know, there is the “all hazards” paradigm for disaster training, and this is to remind us that we NN/LM emergency planners take an “all seasons” approach to preparedness!  Winter weather has brought some of the most memorable disasters to libraries (see the Jan. 29, 2008 post on water damage at Renne Library, Montana State University) because of frozen and bursting pipes.  It poses danger to library staff who face slick roads and sidewalks, and power outages for libraries, staff and patrons (see article on last week’s ice storm in NY, NH, MA and ME).  In addition, the CDC’s “Winter Weather” tip this week details how the cold can endanger one’s heart. 

Some activities to consider this week in preparation for the holiday season and winter weather:

  1. make sure your communication information is up to date–cell and home phone numbers for key staff and administrators
  2. think about how you can provide information services from home if you can’t get to work; proxy account?  software installed?  alternate voice mail ready for your phone?
  3. need any plastic sheeting for protecting your print resources or equipment in case of a water leak?

Also, if your business slows a bit during the holiday, take some time to read some of the “Stories Told” on the Library Disaster Stories page here on the toolkit (click on the “view larger map” link to see the list of stories).  I found myself awed by the strength and resourcefulness of our colleagues in some very trying circumstances, and found that their observations on their experiences can help all of us prepare for events we hope will never occur.

Preparedness pays off: two stories from the news

Boston University’s online newspaper contains an article today about how the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX weathered Hurricane Ike with flying colors, despite the beating taken by the island as a result of the storm. There is a really interesting account from their associate director of research, who said that “the positive outcome was no stroke of luck, but the result of wise engineering and a comprehensive emergency plan that includes a long-term weather-tracking strategy.” She also noted that “preparedness is attainable, and it works.”

At the University of Hawaii, roof repair work led to some major water leaking into their library. The account in the “Star Bulletin” today underlines how a quick response, based on excellent preparedness activities, can minimize damage and speed recovery. Based on their experiences with major flooding in 2004, the library has a well-developed disaster response team, who was actively watching for damage from the heavy rains, had the needed supplies on hand, knew what to do with wet materials and where to put them, and had a salvage company on site quickly to restore air quality and help with cleanup.

News reports of flooding:

KHON TV

KHNL TV

It’s nice to hear that preparedness efforts really do pay off–a huge return on a relatively small investment!