Identify your library’s risk

In the world of disaster preparedness, organizations need to consider hazards and risks: A hazard is an event that has the potential to cause harm. A risk is the likelihood that a given hazard will actually cause harm.

Workers clear snow from outside a county building
While wildfires are the most common hazard in the NorthNet region, libraries in the Sierra Nevada mountains, such Alpine County, may also contend with major snowstorms.

For example, a library on the coast and a library inland may both list flooding as a possible hazard. Their risk of flooding may be vastly different, however, based on factors such as topography, elevation or distance from oceans, rivers or creeks. Flooding may be much more of a risk in one community than the other if it is more likely to occur.

Conduct a simple self-assessment

When preparing for disasters, start by learning more about your community’s disaster history. Talk to veteran staff members and volunteers about their experiences during past disasters. Brainstorm a list of possible hazards and work with your team to identify those that pose the greatest risk.

According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the most common hazards statewide include:

  • Earthquakes

  • Fires/wildfires

  • Floods/mudslides

  • Extreme temperatures

  • Severe weather

  • Poor air quality

  • Power outages

  • Pandemics/communicable diseases

  • Tsunamis

  • Dam failures

After creating your list, determine the risk level for each hazard and identify how prepared your library is to respond:

Consider the locations and groups that are most at risk in your community. Remember that an individual neighborhood or branch library might face its own unique risks. Consider factors such as geography, evacuation routes and patron needs when determining possible risks.

Tools & Resources