Click here to see a page that gives an excellent explanation of what a table-top exercise is, and how to create and run one. The author is Joe Olivo, of Strohl Consulting Services. Joe is a Certified Business Continuity Planner, and while the page notes that he has consulted with financial institutions, law firms, and businesses, I think that his advice can be easily adapted for just about any type of institution, including libraries large and small. It’s a good example of providing information that is general enough to be adapted, while specific enough to be helpful.
I particularly like this part: “Based upon the effectiveness of the pre-exercise meetings, the exercise will almost run by itself with team members knowing what has to be accomplished. Exercising is a primary means of training. In any actual recovery effort, the best team members are usually those who have participated in exercises.”
We are beginning monthly training sessions here at UVa’s HSL with staff who are responsible for emergency response, using a table-top exercise each month for a different scenario. The first scenario was an epidemic of influenza, in which the library’s staffing was compromised. We talked through how the library would be opened, how to determine if it should stay open, how core services would be maintained, how patrons would be notified if necessary. We were able to address questions about communication and availablility of various resources, among others, and found the exercise to be quite helpful. Our staff enjoyed working through the scenario, and felt better prepared to respond afterward.
Dan also used table-top exercises in training sessions for NN/LM’s RML staff and emergency response coordinators this year, and the exercises were very effective in helping everyone understand their roles and how the established plan would be implemented across a given scenario and by the various “players.” Many thanks to Joe Olivo and Strohl for making this information available in such an accessible format.