I hope you all had great Thanksgivings and are having a wonderful start to your holiday seasons!
I recently took advantage of the opportunity to attend the Wisconsin “Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD)” conference, which was a great experience for someone interested in learning about how libraries & librarians can be involved in the information needs surround disasters. And there’s a lot of opportunities.
I won’t put all the details of that conference in here (but feel free to comment, which should be open to everyone right now, or e-mail me at adonahue[at]umn.edu!). What actually gave me the inspiration for this post was the fact that we were hurried out of the conference because of impending snow. I got home safely ahead of the weather, but later that evening Madison got around 4 inches in the first snow of the season. And I know Minnesota’s had their fair share already!
So I thought now would be a good time to share some weather preparedness resources, tips, and thoughts; this is the Midwest, after all (there are actually some good tips in that link…)!
- Does your library have a plan for weather emergencies? What happens if you and your staff can’t make it in (or just you, for the many solo librarians)? Now might be a good time to check your continuity of service plans if you have one, or to check out some of the great resources that the GMR provides on emergency preparedness and response. Making sure you’re able to provide something as simple as a default message to display on your inter/intranet page with your library’s status and maybe an emergency contact can go a long way.
- Along with having a plan, and maybe this should actually come first: do you have a policy for your staff? Is it clear when they should stay home and when to try to come in if possible? Maybe certain positions have priority, or certain positions can work from home. A phone chain for making sure everyone knows who is where can also be extremely helpful.
- Does your library have necessary supplies for helping out with snowy weather? Salt & shovels to help clear a path to entrances and to help staff & clients get in and out? A service set up to do the clearing for you (or confirmation from your institution’s facilities management that they won’t forget you)? Plastic sheeting and other emergency library supplies for burst pipes, if that could be an issue? Know your physical space, and prepare for possible situations and (you know the rule) they’ll hopefully never happen!
- If appropriate, perhaps your library could become a source of weather information (hey, information! that’s up our alley!). For instance, I know that the University of Minnesota Bio-Medical Library has current weather info regularly shown on their information displays, right next to announcements of upcoming library classes.
- And, of course, as health sciences librarians, we can be sure we know all the best resources for weather-related health issues! MedlinePlus has great information on hypothermia; the CDC has a whole page for winter weather-related emergencies as well as a guide devoted to health in extreme cold; and PubMed has a MeSH term for “Snow“.
- And of course, the most important thing: keep yourself healthy! Take care of yourself and drive safely.
All common sense, perhaps. 🙂 Happy December!
And for a final chuckle: