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Make Sure You and Your Community are Prepared!

The ALA Washington Office recently updated its Disaster Preparedness and Recovery page and, in light of hurricane season and recent events in the western states, it’s vitally important to make sure your library and your community are both prepared should disaster strike.

The ALA Washington Office urges libraries — as community leaders — to
take charge in making sure that their communities are prepared in the
event of an emergency or disaster. The latest surveys show that 83% of

Americans are unprepared to help themselves in a disaster, while the National Heritage Health Index discovered that 70% of libraries did not have
a disaster plan.

Please use this time to prepare your institution for the types of
disasters that might befall you, and help your communities prepare as
well. The newly updated web page includes the following resources:

  • dPlan: The Online Disaster-Planning Tool

    For certain resources — like FEMA’s
    Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program
    — your state must have a disaster plan in effect. dPlan is a free Web-based fill-in-the-blank program for writing institutional disaster plans.

  • Heritage Preservation’s Lessons Applied: Katrina and Cultural Heritage

    Heritage Preservation

    In October 2006, the Heritage Emergency National Task Force launched a “Lessons Applied” initiative designed to help Task Force members develop and implement projects to address the major issues that Katrina and other major storms brought to light. The goal was to convert analysis to action. New tools are posted to aid libraries, archives, museums, historic sites, and historic preservation and arts organizations in disaster preparedness and recovery.

    Tools include:

    1. Tips for Working with Emergency Responders. This handy sheet tells how to find and build relationships with local emergency responders, as well as what responders need to know to better protect cultural institutions.
    2. Guide to Navigating FEMA and SBA Disaster Aid for Cultural Institutions. This concise Web site leads cultural institutions through the process of applying to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance after major disasters.
    3. Recommended Professional Emergency Management Training. The free courses listed in this resource teach cultural heritage staff and volunteer teams about local, state, and federal disaster response frameworks already in place, as well as standard protocols and terminology.

As a further measure, use this time to contact your community’s first responders. If the local police and fire departments know who you are and know how important the library is, they’re better prepared to help in an emergency. In many communities, librarians are even on the

disaster planning boards; where paramedics sit on the board to represent emergency medical expertise, librarians are often called upon
as information professionals.

Communities need leaders in times of emergency, and librarians are perfectly suited to the role!

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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