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Creating a Readiness Culture within Pennsylvania Libraries

Posted by on February 28th, 2015 Posted in: The MAReport

Renae BargerMAR Highlights

Renae Barger, Executive Director

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NN/LM MAR) provides assistance to our members in preparing for and responding to disasters or localized emergencies.  MAR staff are available to assist with emergency preparedness and response activities, from risk assessment, training, and developing a disaster plan.

On November 4th, MAR partnered with Dan Wilson, Coordinator of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness Response (EP&R) Initiative; the Office of Commonwealth Libraries; and Altoona Public Library to offer a one-day symposium.  The symposium, “Creating a Readiness Culture within Pennsylvania Libraries,” took place in State College, PA and was attended by 50 library staff, representing mostly public libraries, with additional representation from medical and academic libraries.


The primary goals of the symposium were to bring the library community together with the emergency planning community to provide a forum for discussing roles libraries and information professionals can play in supporting future disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts, as well as to create a disaster readiness culture within Pennsylvania libraries.  <!–The Office of Commonwealth Libraries has posted the presentations on their YouTube channel:

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW27sYsCXMU
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL7LqpzoUxk
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKd16td4BKY
  • –>

    Planning Committee:  Dan Wilson, Renae Barger, Diana Megdad, Stacey AldrichPlanning Committee: Dan Wilson, Renae Barger, Diana Megdad, and Stacey Aldrich

    The program began with a welcome and introduction from the program sponsors:  Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian, Office of Commonwealth Libraries and Renae Barger, Executive Director, NN/LM MAR.  Dan Wilson, Coordinator of the NN/LM EP&R Initiative, provided an introduction to the initiative and an overview of his work across the country with the eight regional NN/LM offices.  As Coordinator, he facilitates training sessions for libraries interested in creating a disaster-ready culture and partnering with emergency planners.

    The morning session started with a timely presentation on Ebola by Chad Thomas, Public Health Communications Outreach Coordinator for the Philadelphia Department of Health.  This set the stage for a conversation with emergency planners, including Chad Thomas; Steve Leauber, Disaster Program Planner for American Red Cross; and Shawn Kauffman, Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator.  All were asked to discuss their responsibilities and roles in disaster preparedness, response and recovery, as well as opportunities for libraries to become involved and to support their efforts.  Dr. Jon Nese, Associate Head for

    Steve Leauber, Chad Thomas, Miriam Meislik, and Shawn KauffmanPresenters: Steve Leauber, Chad Thomas, Miriam Meislik, and Shawn Kauffman

    Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Meteorology at Penn State, was on-hand to offer libraries forecast challenges and impacts of Pennsylvania winter storms as potential emergencies.  Finally, Miriam Meislik, Media Curator for the Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh, spoke on protecting collections.

    In the afternoon, Dan Wilson led an interactive workshop on creating a readiness culture within the library.  Renae Barger also discussed the availability of MAR funding for libraries in attendance.  Attendees were invited to apply for small awards up to $5,000, to pursue projects designed to introduce a readiness culture or foster preparedness partnerships within the community.  As a result, over $20,000 has been awarded to the following seven libraries.  We look forward to the success of these projects as they wrap-up over the next few months:

    Disaster Plans & Preparedness for Libraries in NEPA

    Scranton Public Library
    Scranton, PA

    Project Manager:  Michele Legate
    Period of Performance:  February 1 – April 30, 2015
    Amount of Funding:  $1,785

    The Northeast, Wilkes-Barre, and Pottsville Library District propose to hold a one day Disaster Preparedness Workshop in Northeast PA for 50+ libraries.  Libraries are located in urban, suburban, and rural communities.  The workshop will have two goals.  Our first goal is to assist the libraries in creating a one-page service continuity plan to help them get their library services up and running again, as quickly as possible, after a disaster.  Dan Wilson, Coordinator of the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, will facilitate a session where attendees can begin to draft a plan that best suits their library.

    Our second goal is to increase the number of Northeast Pennsylvania libraries active in disaster response by giving them the tools to proactively become disaster relief centers for their communities through partnerships with their local emergency planners.

    Response Training and Stations at Centre County Libraries

    Centre County Library & Historical Museum
    Bellefonte, PA

    Project Manager:  Lisa Erickson
    Period of Performance:  February 1 – April 30, 2015
    Amount of Funding:  $5,000

    Centre County Library operates three public library branches, a bookmobile, and a local history/genealogy research center/museum.  This project would allow all locations to become “response stations” for community emergencies.  All staff would be trained on the core ideas presented in “12 Elements of a Library at a High State of Readiness” and be involved in creating an emergency preparedness plan.  This plan would involve how to respond to emergencies not only within the library walls, but also how to help the public meet their informational needs during and immediately following a disaster.

    Beginning Emergency Preparedness

    Springdale Free Public Library
    Springdale, PA

    Project Manager:  Janet Tyree
    Period of Performance:  February 1 – April 30, 2015
    Amount of Funding:  $2,050

    The Springdale Free Public Library would begin a discussion with the coordinator of our School District’s emergency management personnel – our service area is our school district which includes Springdale Borough, Springdale Township, Harmar Township and Cheswick Borough.  During that discussion, we would plan out just what is needed for us to be prepared in case of various emergencies that can affect our communities and what part the Library can play in this management.  Staff will be trained in emergencies and CPR.

    Emergency Preparedness for Allegheny County Libraries

    Allegheny County Library Association
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Project Manager:  Chrisoula Perdziola
    Period of Performance:  February 1 – April 30, 2015
    Amount of Funding:  $3,665

    The objective of this first-of-its-kind project is to create a one-day training opportunity that will produce a standard of quality and reliability regarding the information that Allegheny County libraries and their staff have with regard to emergency preparedness for both libraries and for the residents they serve.  Specifically it will seek to provide consistent, authoritative, and practical information on best practices and tools related to emergency preparedness to all 73 library locations in Allegheny County.

    Healthful Help for the Homebound Community in Adams County

    Adams County Library System
    Gettysburg, PA

    Project Manager:  Valli Hoski and Laura Goss
    Period of Performance:  February 1 – April 30, 2015
    Amount of Funding:  $4,300

    The objectives of this project are to:

    • Identify resource kit of print, electronic and other resources on health, emergency services, and “in-place” care and safety for use by the homebound community (homebound individuals, caregivers, and family).  Kit will include National Library of Medicine (NLM) disaster health information and emergency preparedness resources, and supporting resources available from the Disaster Information Management Resource Center (DIMRC).
    • Increase awareness of the risks, safety, and health care issues specific to preparedness, safety, and protection of the homebound community during weather-related disasters and local emergencies.
    • Provide a workshop for “Healthful Help for the Homebound” on “homebound health / safety preparedness, service and protection” to the Adams County area homebound community, families and agencies on the key issues, risks of weather-related disasters, and resources available to prepare, ensure the safety of, and protect the homebound community during local, state, national emergencies.

    Disasters and Emergencies: Are You Prepared?

    Annie Halenbake Ross Library
    Lock Haven, PA

    Project Manager:  William Reynolds and Diane Whitaker
    Period of Performance:  February 1 – April 30, 2015
    Amount of Funding:  $1,500

    In working with the Clinton County Emergency Services team, Ross Library will educate Clinton County residents on disaster related information, such as enhancing emergency preparedness, and increasing awareness before, during, and after a disaster.

    Public Library Emergency Preparedness

    Westmoreland County Federated Library System
    Greensburg, PA

    Project Manager:  Kathy Miller
    Period of Performance: February 1 – April 30, 2015
    Amount of Funding:  $2,300

    The focus of the project will be on the 19 state-aided libraries in Westmoreland County.  The first step will be to educate the libraries about their role in helping the community during an emergency.  The second step will be to enlighten the libraries on the importance of planning for a disaster that directly affects the library.

    Image of the author ABOUT Hannah Sinemus
    Hannah Sinemus is the Web Experience Coordinator for the Middle Atlantic Region (MAR). Although she updates the MAR web pages, blog, newsletter and social media, Hannah is not the sole author of this content. If you have questions about a MARquee or MAReport posting, please contact the Middle Atlantic Region directly at nnlmmar@pitt.edu.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012342 with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System.

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