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?
Recently, Dan has made two presentations, as an invited speaker, that featured the importance of service continuity planning for libraries, and in both cases he used the scenario of social distancing in response to the H1N1 influenza virus (see info from the CDC) as a basis. Some experts are warning that H1N1 may re-surge in the northern hemisphere early this fall, well before the tradional flu season, so it’s important that we remain aware of the potential risks from a more widespread epidemic than we have seen so far, and that we keep the banner of service continuity moving forward.
On July 9, Dan addressed the monthly conference call hosted by NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), giving an overview of this year’s activities of the NN/LM’s emergency preparedness initiative, and featuring the Hospital Librarians Summit which was held in Chicago in April (click here to see the posting about this). Other highlights of this year have been conducting training meetings with NN/LM staff and state coordinators in the PNR, SCR, GMR, PSR and SE/A regions, enhancing the Toolkit, and developing promotional materials. Several participants on the call confirmed that the training has been very effective so far, and “buy-in” from NN/LM members has been excellent.
On July 17, Dan addressed the annual Interlibrary Loan Forum of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) at Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, VA. Working from the NN/LM’s emergency preparedness plan, which emphasizes service continuity, especially for Interlibrary Loan services, Dan presented the procedures that have been established through a partnership between the Health Sciences Libraries at the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for providing back-up ILL services for each other in an emergency, and which are transparent to library users. While the audience represented all types of academic libraries in Virginia, it included several who are NN/LM members. Click ILL Backup Plan VIVA to see Dan’s slides from the VIVA Forum.
If you would like more information about the ILL backup plan between the two libraries or about training for service continuity, please contact one of us (see the “About Us” tab at the top of the page).
The “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning” class, created by the Coordinator and Project Assistant for the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Plan, has been approved by the Medical Library Association (MLA) for 2 hours of Continuing Education credit, awarded at the conclusion of the class. To view information about the class, check here on the MLA Educational Clearinghouse site. (You can find the class by using “emergency” as the keyword in the search box on the first page of the site.) If you are interested in arranging a “10-Step Approach…” class for yourself or a group, contact your NN/LM regional office at 1-800-338-7657. Classes are offered both face-to-face and virtually.
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.