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Middle Atlantic Region (MAR) Training on April 25

Kathel Dunn, Associate Director of the MAR RML, hosted the Emergency Preparedness & Response training meeting at her offices on April 25 in New York City.  The day began with a meeting at NYU’s Frederick L. Ehrman Medical Library, where Kathel, Dan and Susan met with Colleen Cuddy, Deputy Director of the Library.  Colleen is active in NLM’s Disaster Information Management Resource Center’s information specialist initiative, and was able to share updates about progress at NYU relative to the project.  Karen Brewer, Library Director, was absent due to illness.

Following this meeting and a tour of the library, Kathel, Dan and Susan walked to the VA Hospital where Kathel’s offices are located (with a spectacular view of the East River and cityscape), met Kathel’s staff, and began the morning part of the training meeting for MAR.  Having weathered the terrorist attacks and continuing effects, the New York City area is all too familiar with the need for emergency preparedness and an organized response.  Based on their experience, with both the terrorist incidents and with severe weather in their region, they are well aware of the need for back-up library relationships, both formal and informal, and discussed the development of partnerships locally, regionally and nationally.  Kathel’s staff had very insightful questions and some excellent ideas for developing back-up library relationships, including a version of “speed dating,” that could be hosted at chapter and/or regional consortial meetings.

After lunch, which was at a nearby Belgian café, the group re-assembled at the RML’s office for the Table-Top exercise.  The exercise went well and confirmed that the MAR already embodies a strong teamwork approach to supporting its members.  The RML could possibly provide a laptop temporarily to the affected librarian, in order to support off-site access to online resources, and would assist by contacting vendors/publishers and recommending the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), which is located near Boston.  As is the case in other regions of NN/LM, each state in the region is represented through a member of the RML staff, which is how the emergency response would be carried out.  A major role for the state coordinators will be to raise awareness of the need for emergency preparedness and response planning.

The consensus was that in the MAR, there are so many resource libraries in a relatively small geographic region, the RML would have little difficulty in identifying possible back-up libraries for its members, and would be able to stay within the states for back-ups, for instance, members in Pennsylvania would have a back-up library that is in Pennsylvania.  Kathel noted that an ongoing challenge is keeping members aware of what is available, and they will most likely use the listserv to help maintain the awareness of this project and the opportunities that will be presented for training and assistance.

The group discussed possibilities for rolling out the plan in their region, including offering training, requesting and assisting with submissions for awards, use of the DOCLINE community/network already established, as well as the personal visits that staff conduct already.  Ideas included offering an online class for training in service continuity planning, adding a link to the region’s web page to the toolkit, and working with the leadership of the various organizations in the regional networks and chapters of MLA.  Micki McIntyre, a member of the region’s Emergency Preparedness Committee, is also Chair of the New York/New Jersey Chapter of MLA, and she attended the meeting with Kathel’s group.  Micki had some excellent ideas for including this project in the programming for the chapter’s meetings.

The meeting ended with agreement that the MAR will focus its efforts on raising awareness about the Emergency Preparedness & Response plan, making members aware of the opportunities that are available, assisting with training where needed, and focusing particularly on helping members develop service continuity plans, including back-up library relationships.  Kathel and her outstanding staff will undoubtedly prove to be an excellent resource for all their members, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of their good ideas!

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