May DayTo commemorate MayDay, the national effort to protect cultural heritage collections from disasters, the Heritage Emergency Task Force recommends that libraries take some simple steps to be better prepared:
- If you have a disaster plan, dust it off and bring it up to date.
- If you don't have a plan, make a timeline for developing one.
- Get to know your local firefighters and police. Invite them to tour your institution and give pointers on safety and preparedness.
- Identify the three biggest risks to your collection or building (such as leaking water pipes, heavy snow, or power failure) and outline steps to mitigate them.
- Conduct a building evacuation drill and evaluate the results.
- Update your staff contact information and create a wallet-size version of your emergency contact roster. See the Pocket Response Plan (PReP™) at http://www.statearchivists.org/prepare/framework/prep.htm.
- Eliminate hazards such as storage in hallways, blocked fire exits, or improper storage of paints or solvents.
- Provide staff with easily accessible disaster response information, such as that available from the National Heritage Emergency Task Force at http://www.heritageemergency.org.
- Join forces with nearby institutions and agree to assist each other in a disaster.
- Establish a method of identifying objects that are most important to your mission, irreplaceable, or most fragile, making evacuation simpler when disaster hits.
- Register for a free course to learn how your institution fits into existing emergency response protocols. A list is available at http://www.heritagepreservation.org/lessons/courses.html.
PALCI reminds its members that they can commemorate MayDay year-round through basic emergency preparedness. For example, knowing how you and your colleagues would address the following questions in an emergency would go a long way toward making you better prepared:
- Do you have a phone tree of who needs to be called when there is a leak in your building and collections are damaged?
- Do you know how to do “triage” for water-damaged materials in your library?
- In an emergency, how would you save essential data about your collections, such as cataloging and acquisitions information from your ILS?
- What disaster supplies do you have on hand?
- Does everyone on your staff know where the disaster supplies are kept? You could easily create labels to help quickly identify emergency supplies so that everyone will know their location.
- Do you have a list of cellphone numbers for key library staff? Who should always be called? Who should be called on an as-needed basis?
- Do you have contact information for after-hours facilities personnel? How would you get in touch with them if you needed fans or a wet vac?
The following questions don’t relate to collections. However, knowing the answers can help your library be better prepared for other types of emergency situations:
- Does your staff know how to evacuate persons in your building when the fire alarm sounds? What about persons in wheel chairs who might be on upper floors? What about hearing- or vision-impaired persons?
- Do you have a first-aid kit? Are the supplies up-to-date?
- Who should your staff call if there is a health emergency—911 or campus police? When you dial 911 from a library phone, who picks up—campus police or community police?
MayDay 2008In PALCI's first MayDay commemoration, three member libraries carried out activities on MayDay:
- Engineering and Science Library, Carnegie Mellon University, which conducted several activities, including updating its staff and emergency contact list; updating its emergency evacuation procedures; reviewed its emergency plan and discussed water damage to collections over morning coffee and donuts; and inventoried its disaster supply cache.
- Library and Information Technology, Bucknell University, inventoried and organized its cache of disaster supplies, making sure staff was aware of their locations and uses.
- Snowden Library, Lycoming College, which invited campus emergency personnel to the library to tour the facility and make them aware of the library's needs.
You can see some of the efforts made by PALCI libraries by viewing PALCI's Flickr photo-sharing site.
MayDay 2009Because May 1st often falls at a busy time of the year for many academic institutions, PALCI libraries were encouraged to celebrate MayDay in ways and at times most convenient to them.
Several PALCI libraries reported on their disaster preparedness activities to commemorate MayDay 2009. These included:
- Gumberg Library, Duquesne University, which founded a Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee to conduct activities throughout the academic year. In 2008-2009, staff at Gumberg Library developed a list of needed disaster supplies and began to purchase them; installed a new security system throughout the building (including video cameras and card-swipe technology); undertook CPR training; created a guide to when and how to use the library's panic alarm system; and met with the university's insurance agent to discuss insurance issues related to the library's collections.
- High Library, Elizabethtown College, which focused on training in the use of AED (automated external defibrillator) units, one of which is located at the library's circulation desk. Library staff also discussed the need for updated CPD training and campus and library procedures for requesting emergency responders.
- Madigan Library, Pennsylvania College of Technology, which compiled a list of archival materials to designate for priority rescue/salvage in the event of emergency. This project parallels the library's existing efforts to prioritize rescue and salvage of materials in its general collections. Archives staff identified these collections by placing large red dot stickers in the lower right corner of each document file or carton. (The stickers are 1-¼-inch and glow in the dark.; the process of compiling the list and applying the stickers took less than two hours and cost only about $5.00.)
- Musselman Library, Gettysburg College, which documented its MayDay activities throughout the year and finalized plans for a mid-May disaster planning event, "Playing with Fire: Engaging Community Partners in Emergency Preparedness."
- Pelletier Library, Allegheny College, which carried out activities on an ongoing basis throughout the year, prompted in part by the Virginia Tech shooting incident, a recent major renovation of the ibrary, and increased community involvement with the Crawford County Office of Emergency Services. The library placed NOAA weather radios on each floor of the building, added a building public address system for announcing severe weather alerts and other emergency notifications, developed new emergency exit paths, provided tours of the renovated building to first responders, and conducted emergency drills and evaluated the results.
- Snowden Library, Lycoming College, which updated its disaster plan and played a rousing session of "MayDay Jeopardy" as a way to remind staff members of the library's disaster preparedness practices.
You can see examples of PALCI members' disaster preparedness efforts below, as well as at PALCI's Flickr photo-sharing site.
Allegheny College disaster preparedness 2009 – DOC-File, 26.0 KB
Duquesne University May Day Activities 2008-09 – DOC-File, 27.0 KB
Panic Alarm Instructions--Duquesne University – DOCX-File, 372.3 KB
MayDay@HighLibraryEtown2009 – DOC-File, 503.5 KB
MayDay submission_Musselman_Library – PDF-File, 1.1 MB
Lycoming College May Day Activities 2009 Report – DOCX-File, 493.4 KB
Pennsylvania College of Technology MayDay activities 2009 – DOC-File, 427.5 KB
MayDay 2010In 2010, 6 PALCI institutions submitted their MayDay activities for consideration by Heritage Preservation and one of them--Lycoming College's Snowden Library--was a prize winner in the national MayDay competition.
The PALCI libraries who participated are as follows--
Snowden Library, Lycoming College, "We Didn't Start the Fire!" Snowden Library staff invited the college's Director of Safety and Security and a Security Officer to talk to the staff about fire safety. The training included instructions on the use of different types of fire extinguishers and a question-and-answer period in which staff expressed concerns about what to do during fire drill.
High Library, Elizabethtown College, sponsored two programs for MayDay--
- On May 3, staff planned and executed a "Collection Salvage Priorities" exercise.
- On May 24, we worked with our HR department, who gave us classroom and hands-on fire safety training.
Madigan Library, Pennsylvania College of Technology. This year's MayDay activity at the Pennsylvania College of Technology was a preservation quiz. Library staff and student workers were given a ten-question quiz on the basics of preservation/emergency preparedness. Those with ten correct answers competed in a drawing for two $10 gift vouchers, one for the winning staff member and one for the winning student.
Musselman Library, Gettysburg College, held a program on May 12th entitled "Break the Mold!" in response to a mold outbreak that had previously affected a part of their collections. The program was designed to offer a learning opportunity for staff on what mold is, how to spot it, what the library's policy and procedure are when it is found. The library sent three people to the PALCI-sponsored disaster preparedness training session at Millersville University, and planned to conduct a water emergency exercise during the summer months.
University Library System, University of Pittsburgh, Preservation Department,developed a public display case that detailed (in a conscientious, yet whimsical way) the dangers posed to library collections and ways that library staff work to mitigate such damages. (You can also view photos of the display on PALCI s Flickr site.)
Gumberg Library, Duquesne University, reported on a whole host of activities it conducted throughout the year in support of MayDay--
- Three members of the Safety & Emergency Preparedness Committee cut plastic sheeting, placed it in strategic locations, and created a directional sheet for staff.
- The Safety & Emergency Preparedness Committee has been maintaining a current Emergency Phone List, which was extremely useful during the February 2010 blizzard.
- Recently the committees began using the Heritage Preservation Pocket Response Plan. Once this document is completed it will be distributed to the necessary people.
- The University Archivist and his staff photographed and videotaped the contents of all of the special collections in the library for insurance purposes.
- The Gumberg Library had its Spring 2010 Fire Evacuation Drill. The evacuation for the library was completed well within the allotted time. The building should be evacuated within 6 minutes, and it was evacuated in 3 minutes and 35 seconds.
- Duquesne University Gumberg Library hosted the Emergency Preparedness and Response Training organized by PALCI and presented by Tom Clareson of Lyrasis.
- The Gumberg Library continues to actively participate in the Pittsburgh Alliance for Response.
Belated, those 6 libraries will receive prizes from PALCI, a 4-in-1 self-charging emergency flashlight, which features an FM radio, an emergency alarm, and a cell phone charger, all useful tools during an emergency.