In Case of Emergency . . .

The Highland City Library opened in October 2008 without any kind of emergency plan. One year later I started my MLS journey a semester early with a Preservation Strategies course taught by preservation librarian Randy Silverman of the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library. This course piqued my interest, which ultimately lead to me obtaining an Archives Studies Certificate.

The one thing I took from the course in preservation was that libraries (and archives) are charged with protecting their collections from environmental or human damage. The concepts of this course stayed with me throughout my program and I wanted to make sure that our library had some sort of plan in case of emergency.

In the months following the Alliance for Response workshop I began working on creating an emergency plan. My goal was to create a document that would cover basic procedures for any kind of emergency from leaks to fires to criminal attacks (and yes even earthquakes). My first challenge was to figure out where to start.

A search of the Internet yielded many helpful plans for large library systems, but Highland is a very small library and these would not fit. Finally, I decided on a sample plan prepared by Jim Smith for the Alabama Public Library Service in March 2009. This sample acted as a starting point for the Highland City Library Disaster and Emergency Plan.

Some of the things I learned creating the new plan for our library was that there are no emergency pull alarms in our building and that all the exit/entrance doors to the building have a fire extinguisher nearby. Something not to include for a one story building are instructions for an elevator.

The most fun I had was writing instructions for suspicious packages. Anyone who has ever dealt with Interlibrary Loans knows full well that these envelopes and boxes are reused until they are dead and continuously look suspicious. The most helpful I believe is the water leak section which is my greatest fear especially after regular working hours.

The plan does not stand alone and has been supplemented by an Emergency Pocket Planner that was provided to me by my former teacher Randy Silverman. I was able to adapt the planner for our institution and needs create an electronic copy for all staff to access and printed out hard copies for the Director and Assistant Librarian.

The Highland City Library Disaster and Emergency Plan was submitted to and reviewed by my Director. After this review I printed a hard copy of the plan and placed it in the Staff Procedures Manual as well as emailing an electronic copy to each staff member. Last of all the plan and pocket planner will be reviewed at least once a year to correct any possible informational changes (i.e. contact information dealing with staff).

The Highland City Library Disaster and Emergency Plan*

*Items have been omitted due to security concerns.

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