Coordinate continuity of library operations

The severity and duration of a given disaster will be determining factors in whether the library can continue “normal” operations during the immediate response phase.

During the 2019 Kincade Fire, the Sonoma County Library faced large-scale evacuations and power shutoffs across its service area.

Sonoma County Library staff provide services to evacuate community members
Sonoma County Library staff provide services to evacuated community members during the 2019 Kincade Fire.

“Our primary focus was checking on staff and making sure they were okay,” said Sonoma County Library Director Ann Hammond. “We wanted to offer library services as soon as possible, but because of the size of the evacuation area, many staff were evacuated, as well.”

Coordinating the library’s response required constant communication between library administrators and community leaders. Because many residents were evacuated southward, the library also reached out to libraries in Marin County to offer staff support.

To ensure that operations can continue during a disaster, libraries should:

  • Immediately convene the library’s emergency coordinator, disaster response team and senior staff when safe to do so

  • Review and discuss how the disaster response plan will be implemented

  • Coordinate with city or county emergency officials

  • Revisit roles and responsibilities for staff and volunteers

  • Identify immediate actions items

  • Determine how services and programming should be adjusted during the disaster

Tools & Resources

  • Sample continuity plan (excerpt from sample disaster response plan)

  • CBO continuity planning guide, produced by the Victoria, BC Community Council