Identify your library’s risk

In the world of disaster preparedness, organizations need to consider hazards and risks: A hazard is an event that has the potential to cause harm. A risk is the likelihood that a given hazard will actually cause harm. While wildfires are the most common hazard in the NorthNet region, libraries in the Sierra Nevada mountains, […]

Assemble your team

Effective disaster responses always come down to people. Even the most well written disaster response plans will be ineffective without capable action on the part of staff members and volunteers. Get your planning process off to a strong start by identifying the right mix of people to help lead preparedness efforts. Identify an emergency coordinator […]

Prepare for the recovery phase

As a disaster abates, libraries should engage staff, volunteers and partners in transitioning to the recovery phase. Consider what work will need to be done before library branches can re-open. Depending on the disaster, significant time may be needed for repairs, environmental cleanup or cataloging library inventory. When a major snowstorm caused extensive flooding, the […]

Support broader disaster response efforts

Library staff may also be asked to support city or countywide emergency operations if they are considered “essential employees” or if a disaster is prolonged. In Napa County, library staff members assisted with county-led disaster response efforts during recent power shutoffs, wildfires in 2017 and an earthquake in 2014. “One thing that helps is being […]

Provide services during a disaster

Safety concerns, staff capacity and community needs should all be considered when determining how to provide services during a disaster. If conditions permit, programs may be offered at alternate locations or moved online. Kids have one last visit with Placer County’s retiring bookmobile. A library’s bookmobile can be a major asset during a disaster, allowing […]

Implement the library’s communications plan

Coordinating responses with local leaders and providing accurate information are both major priorities during a disaster. For NorthNet libraries, recent experiences with wildfires and power shutoffs have also created additional challenges. Following the 2017 Northern California wildfires, the Napa County Library directed patrons to community resources and provided regular updates about the library’s status. Libraries […]

Secure critical documents and collections

Although some disasters will require immediate evacuation of library facilities, staff members will often have time to gather key materials. Staff and volunteers pack up books at the Burney branch of the Shasta Public Libraries. If feasible, secure emergency contacts, vital records and log-in information for the library’s online accounts before evacuating. Traditionally, copies of […]

Coordinate continuity of library operations

The severity and duration of a given disaster will be determining factors in whether the library can continue “normal” operations during the immediate response phase. During the 2019 Kincade Fire, the Sonoma County Library faced large-scale evacuations and power shutoffs across its service area. Sonoma County Library staff provide services to evacuated community members during […]

Implement your disaster response plan

Disasters may occur suddenly and without warning. Regular drills and practice before a disaster strikes will help staff and volunteers to implement the plan even in worst-case scenarios. As a disaster unfolds, put library-wide and branch specific emergency action plans (EAPs) into action. Call 911 If someone is injured or an emergency originates in the […]

Recognize that needs will change

In the weeks, months and years that follow a disaster, your community will move through several phases. Over time, residents will return to affected areas; homeowners and businesses will rebuild. Community needs have evolved since 2017, when the Tubbs Fire decimated Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood. Those who visit your community for the first time […]