About the NN/LM EP&R Initiative


To help mitigate the impact of disasters on communities, healthcare providers and their patients, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) implemented the following emergency preparedness and response plan in 2008 to help libraries maintain their core information resources and services in the event of a disaster.

The effectiveness of the plan depends on the participation of a range of players, from individual libraries, through the eight Regional Medical Library (RML) offices, to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The structure is designed to provide a game plan that starts with preparedness and continues through emergency response.

Local preparedness plan:
All libraries should have a preparedness plan suitable to their environment.  This includes developing a one page Service Continuity Plan and establishing a back-up relationship with a library [or libraries] who can help maintain your core services during and after a disaster.

Local emergency response plan:
All libraries should have a strategy in place for communicating following a disaster.  RML offices provide information and assistance to libraries in assistance with service continuity planning.

NN/LM Emergency Response Action Plan

Green: No Assistance Required

A library is able to handle the situation within its institution or locally, according to its level of preparedness and the viability of its existing disaster plan.

Yellow: Assistance Requested (Communication Channels Available)

  • affected library contacts back-up library and RML Office
  • RML Office contacts Regional/State Coordinator (if applicable)
  • RML Office de-activates affected member’s DOCLINE lending, if necessary (if applicable)
  • determination is made if additional services or resources are needed for service continuity
  • affected library notifies RML Office when services have been restored, RML Office notifies Regional/State Coordinator (if applicable)

Red: Assistance Needed (No Communication)

In the event that there is no communication from either the affected library or its back-up library, the RML Office will de-activate DOCLINE lending for the affected Network member (if applicable or if aware of the situation) and contact the Regional/State Coordinator, but no other response will be initiated pending re-establishment of communication.

Description of Roles


To mitigate the impact of a disaster, libraries are encouraged to maintain an up-to-date one page Service Continuity Plan. The plan should identify essential services and resources and should contain strategies for maintaining service continuity from a site away from the library, such as someone’s home. The plan should also include a prioritized list of essential or unique non-electronic resources (such as books, journals, manuscripts, and works of art) and a salvaging chart for responders to use to rescue these items in the event of a disaster. Libraries are encouraged to partner with a back-up library and to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), specifying services that would be provided by the back-up library in the event of a disaster.

RML Offices:

The RML Office is responsible for coordinating or overseeing a response when requested by a library. Specific coordinating responsibilities include, but are not limited to, re-routing DOCLINE when necessary and if applicable, notifying the Regional/State Coordinator of the incident after being contacted by a library, and providing needed recovery resources, contingent upon available funding. The RML Office is also responsible for promoting the plan, providing training on service continuity planning, facilitating back-up library relationships, and assisting with MOU development.

Back-up Libraries:

The back-up library is the first responder to an affected Network member for communication and service continuity. Back-up libraries need to maintain a current list of contacts and should proactively work out the level of support (preferably through an MOU) that will be implemented in the event of a disaster.

Regional/State Coordinators:

Regional/State Coordinators are appointed by the RML Office and serve according to terms developed by each Network office. Regional/State Coordinators are encouraged to work with regional library groups to promote emergency preparedness in their region. When necessary, the Regional/State Coordinator is part of the team (RML Office, affected Network member, and back-up library) that helps ensure continuation of services to the affected Network member. Following a disaster, Regional/State Coordinators are responsible for follow-up and reporting to the RML Office.

Resource Libraries:

When needed, participating resource libraries provide backup support to the affected library and its back-up library. In the case where there is no back-up library, a resource library can choose to become the de facto back-up library. This relationship would be coordinated through the RML Office.

Buddy RML Office:

The NN/LM regional offices have developed a buddy system in order to assist each other in the event of a large-scale disaster. The buddy RML Office may need to solicit additional assistance from resource libraries in its region.

NN/LM National Network Office (NNO):

The NNO facilitates the provision of resources for the plan and oversees its development.

National Coordinator of the NN/LM National Emergency Preparedness & Recovery Plan:

The National Coordinator (currently Dan Wilson) is responsible for overseeing the success of the plan throughout all eight regions. In addition, the National Coordinator develops training tools, facilitates workshops and summits, and maintains and establishes partnerships with national groups and organizations that are connected to libraries and emergency preparedness.