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

Choose a coordinator who is thoughtful and interested in the topic of preparedness. Someone with a few years of experience within the organization is helpful, as they will be more prepared to navigate the hierarchies and systems that often influence disaster response.

Be sure to select someone who is respected by their colleagues. The emergency coordinator will be collaborating with staff and volunteers from across the library, so their ability to positively motivate others is essential.

Note that your coordinator does not have to be a disaster preparedness expert. There are many training opportunities available through county, state and federal agencies, if your coordinator is interested in learning more. Their interpersonal and communication skills will make the biggest difference in a successful effort.

Gather a disaster response team

While identifying a well-suited coordinator is vital to planning efforts, preparedness should not fall only on one staff member’s shoulders.

“During a disaster, everyone has a role they can play,” said Danis Kreimeier, retired director of the Napa County Library.

Before a disaster strikes, assemble a team of diverse library staff and volunteers. Include a mix of senior and junior staff from multiple library departments and locations.

Hold an initial series of planning meetings with the emergency coordinator and members of the disaster response team; work together to develop a draft disaster response plan. Begin the conversation by working together to complete a simple self-assessment to identify your library’s disaster risks.