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What is Your Library’s Disaster Readiness Culture (DRC) Score?

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

On a sheet of paper, give yourself a tick mark for each time you answer Yes to one the 12 elements of a library at a state of disaster readiness listed below.  Add up your score.  Most libraries will score between 0 and 5.  It is our goal to provide tools and training to create a disaster ready culture in libraries so that every library in the United States scores 10 or above.  Do you want a better score?  Contact me, Dan Wilson, Coordinator for the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, at 434-924-0193 or danwilson@virginia.edu.

  1. We are committed to purchasing core print materials that may be needed by the community if power is down for an extended time or the Internet is compromised.
  2. Our core online resources are housed on servers with emergency backup power.
  3. We have a response station that includes items such as flashlights, first aid kit, bullhorn, plastic, and a battery operated radio.
  4. We practice situation awareness reporting (What, When, and Where) before, during, and after any kind of service disruption.
  5. We practice 72-hour home preparedness.
  6. We regularly drill our staff on how to respond to unplanned incidents, such as tornadoes, shooter, and HAZMAT incidents, and we perform at least one evacuation drill per year.
  7. We conduct at least two tabletop exercises per year. (One for planned and one for unplanned events.)
  8. We conduct after-action reviews within 14 days of a service disruption.
  9. We have a one-page service continuity plan that is updated at least twice per year.
  10. We have a Mutual Aid Agreement with other libraries to assist us in the delivery of core services if ours are compromised.
  11. We have a partnership (contract not required) with a commercial salvage and recovery company (e.g., Belfor, BMS, Munters) or a local preservationist for recovery of valuable and hard to replace materials.
  12. We have worked with local law enforcement to determine best practices for sheltering-in-place and for responding to unplanned emergency situations.

Planning not to be a victim

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

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

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

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

Monday, December 15th, 2008

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.