Last time I wrote about my experiences at the American Rural Small Libraries conference in Tennessee. One of the sessions I attended was called Practical Preparations and keyed in on safety in libraries and emergency situations.
When I consider an emergency that could take place at the Cherokee Public Library, I immediately think of something like a tornado, fire or flood, all of which have happened at some time to some library in Iowa.
Those are big disasters and we need to have a recovery plan. But there are also some smaller situations that call for action. One mentioned was an incident that happened to a library when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed a block from their building. A little bell rang in the back on my brain on that one. We're close to the tracks.
Utility outages, medical emergencies, circulation system failures, unattended or badly behaved children, lurkers, sex offenders, mold and insect infestations, accidents such as falls, streakers and unstable patrons were all given as examples of unscheduled disruptions that libraries have experienced.
We've dealt in some measure with all of those except for the streaker. I had to grin at that one but after 25 years at a public library, nothing would surprise me, not that I want to give anyone ideas.
We do have an emergency procedures and evacuation plan. We have an unattended children and library conduct policy. We've discussed many of these situations and how to handle them at staff meetings. We've been trained how to use fire extinguishers and how to get people off the elevator in an electrical failure.
And we know we can count on law enforcement and fire personnel to respond immediately. I feel pretty confident that we can handle most incidents, but it never hurts to be prepared. So this winter we will be working on analyzing and identifying what needs to be done to further accomplish that.
The main idea of this workshop was that the best way to deal with problems is to lower the risk of them happening. A building and grounds inspection, good policies, a flexible plan of action, routine maintenance, inventories and comprehensive insurance are necessities.
Lots to think about as we do our best to make our library a safe environment for patrons and staff.
Note: The library will close briefly during the homecoming parade on Friday.