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Diary of a Winter Storm at the UVA Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Wednesday, February 12, 2014: 15:20

A major winter storm is expected to move into Virginia later this afternoon and potentially drop 10 – 15 inches of snow and sleet.  If we get sleet on top of snow, then there is a good chance we will have power outages.  The library’s Service Continuity Team is ready to go in the event that the library is closed tomorrow.  We will do our best to maintain our online content, our network, interlibrary loan (borrows), and library email.  If our library is closed, our large after hours space will be available to anyone with a UVA Health System ID. Patrons who reserved a group study room or classroom tomorrow has been contacted.

All library staff know to call the university’s SNOW line to determine operating status.  (They can also find operating status on the university’s website.)  We will use our library’s voicemail and website to communicate the library’s operating status.  I have a message ready to go, if needed, mentioning that the after hours space is open and that our Service Continuity Team members are home maintaining core library services and resources.  The message also provides contact information for our library’s email address, which we will be monitoring during business hours.

Now we wait and see what happens.

Wednesday, February 12: 18:57

Snow has been falling now for a couple of hours (maybe an inch-and-a-half).  The university has announced that all libraries will close tonight at 10pm and bus service will be suspended at 11pm.  The university also announced that operating status for tomorrow will be announced at 9pm this evening.  I’m following tweets from our area’s Emergency Communications Center, which is right now reporting road conditions.

Wednesday, February 12: 21:42

About 4 inches of powdery snow is now on the ground.  I just took our dog for a walk up the street and marveled at how far into the woods I could see despite it being 9:30pm.  I also took the first swipe at the snow on our sidewalk and driveway.  Again, right now it’s powdery and no problem to shovel.  Shouldn’t be much strain on tree limbs.

The university has canceled classes for tomorrow and the Medical Center is making some shift adjustments.  I just chatted with our evening services employee.  He’ll close the library at 10 and then head for home.

Thursday, February 13: 08:01

CAM00345Looks like about 10 inches of snow on the ground this morning.  The university is closed, however, the Law Library, and 3 other libraries on Grounds are opening at 10am.  We are also opening at 10.  Here is what I’ve been up to this morning:

1. Communicated with staff about opening the library

2. Participated in the Inclement Weather teleconference with the Medical Center’s EOC.  (Note: As units were reporting in, someone mentioned the need for charging devices for personal mobile devices.  When I reported in, I mentioned that the library has charging devices available for checkout.)  As a side note, I was so impressed with the effort the Medical Center puts in to keep its core services functioning.  Really good people doing really good things.

3. I announced on the library’s website our operating status, changed the library’s greeting on our main phone, and wrote on the library’s Facebook page.

Lesson Learned: I typed 424 instead of 434 in a text message to the library’s director this morning. Smart phones are only so smart.

Thursday, February 13th: 10:13

We had to adjust our opening time by an hour to allow a little more time for staff to get to the library.  I went in and reflected the change in voicemail, our website, and Facebook.  Our Collection Development Librarian checked in via email with our Service Continuity Team saying that he was set to handle any access issues with our online resources.

CAM00346I shoveled out our sidewalk and driveway.  The snow is getting a bit heavier as sleet begins to mix in.  The Charlottesville bus service continues to open up routes as conditions improve. Power is holding up in the Charlottesville area.  Richmond seems to be a different story, though, as nearly 2,000 customers without power.


Thursday, February 13th: 15:47


View outside the library at 15:30.

Our evening services person is snowed in.  I hoped on a city bus and am now running the library.  Snow is picking up again, and they are predicting that it will last until early evening.  I’m counting on the bus service to continue until at least 9pm.  We’ll see. Plenty of activity here, with students coming and going.  Power remains solid in our area, and, according to the Dominion Power outage map, most of Richmond is back up again.  I just received an email from the assistant emergency management coordinator for our area.  She reported that the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been open since last night at 6pm.  There has been no need to activate the EOC’s INFO line since the area has power.

Friday, February 14th: 08:05


View outside the Library at 07:45.

The university canceled Friday’s classes last night around 9, as the snow continued well into the early evening hours.  We closed at 9pm last night, and are open today regular hours, as the city buses are running and we can get designated staff in safely.  We never lost power, which we are all very thankful for.  Our Service Continuity Team will be monitoring our core resources and services from their homes until 5pm.  Since the sun is out, I expect normal university operations beginning tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 18th: 09:00

The Service Continuity Team performed an After Action Review.  Discussion centered around ways to enhance communication with staff and patrons about changes to operating status.  We are going to explore providing text alerts for staff to messages posted to our library’s news blog.  We are also going to market the value of our library’s Facebook page for obtaining up-to-date information about opening/closing information during an emergency.

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