As I write this, I’m glued to my chair behind the circulation desk. As a school librarian I’m often up and down, heading to the front office periodically to retrieve something from a mailbox or request a purchase order, making my way to a classroom to check in with a teacher, wandering into the stacks with a student to hunt down a misshelved book.
And then there are days when I’m grateful to stay in one place for a while.
Like today, when another teacher pointed out I have a four inch rip down the back of my pants.
My crisis is a small one–the school accountant is having her husband drop off her sewing kit (and a pair of sweats, I’m hoping, lest I be sequestered while my pants are being repaired!) and I’ll survive the minor embarrassment–but the whole thing has me thinking about emergency preparedness. What do I need to have in my library emergency kit?
1. Tools for a natural disaster. If you don’t already have a plan for inclement weather, particularly leaks and floods, now is an excellent time to start. When I worked in my college library, new employees were all introduced to the emergency binder, which included the number to call immediately for water damage.
2. Basic first aid supplies. In school settings anything beyond a band-aid must be handled by the school nurse, but I think it’s important to keep tissues, hand sanitizer and a bag of band-aids (there is the occasional risk of paper cut, after all) handy, particularly during cold and flue season. Make sure you know the policies and procedures around first aid and medication in your building. Do you know who to call if there’s a major injury or a spill involving blood?
3. Backup circulation procedures. While a power or network outage means your computers are toast, ideally other services can continue with or without your barcode scanner. Is your circulation heavy enough that you need backup circulation cards, or can you write down patron and item numbers by hand? And do you have a procedure manual in general, in case you’re out of the building (and lucky enough to get coverage)?
4. Fire drill and other emergency protocol. Are your exits clearly marked? Do you have a fire route clearly posted? If you had a fire, earthquake, lockdown or other alarm–drill or not–would you know what to do for your staff and patrons? If you’re in a school, make sure you know exactly what the expectations are for the library during a drill. You may need to take attendance once you and your students are in a safe location, and in a lockdown situation you may need to gather students from surrounding hallways. If emergency procedures involve rooms or areas of the library you don’t usually use, make sure you test phones there regularly.
5. Keep a supply stash. You never know when you, a co-worker or a teen might need an umbrella, a quarter for a parking meter, or a spare change of pants. Pay attention to frequently requested items and try to keep a spare on hand, whether in your office, car, or desk drawer. And if you happen to have sewing skills, keeping a needle and thread nearby might not be a bad idea.
What’s in your library emergency kit? Have you had to use it?