Fire, Water and Books: Disaster Preparedness for Academic Libraries
- S. D. Allen Iske Jr. (University of Central Missouri) | Linda G. Lengfellner (University of Central Missouri)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- October 2015
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 39 - 46
- 2015. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 36 since 2007
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- Preparing any business for disaster involves identifying possible hazards, mitigating their effects and identifying response measures.
- One environment that has received little attention in this area is academic libraries.
- By understanding the situations these facilities face, OSH professionals can conduct insightful assessments and recommend proactive solutions.
The need for emergency preparedness planning was highlighted in 2011 by losses from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, tornadoes in the Midwest, Hurricane Irene and flooding in the lower Mississippi River area (Kunreuther & Michel- Kerjan, 2011). Employers were prompted to review or develop emergency response and business continuity plans to protect their employees and facilities from future events (Nicoll & Owens, 2013). In addition, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched the “Plan, Prepare and Mitigate” (www .fema.gov/plan-prepare-mitigate) campaign, which aims to ensure that actions taken before, during and after a disaster can be most effective.
Preparing any business for disaster involves identifying possible hazards, mitigating their effects and identifying response measures before those hazards become active threats. One business environment that has received little attention in this area is academic libraries, which house employees, visiting patrons and a high fuel load due to their diverse collections (Robertson, 2005). While most academic libraries fall under the emergency preparedness umbrella of their parent institution, a library can develop a program of self-help. Even beneath a university’s master plan, by identifying gaps in preparedness, the libraries have an opportunity to improve their policies and procedures.
To identify a baseline of hazards, mitigation measures and response plans for a sample set of academic libraries, the directors of academic libraries located in Missouri were surveyed. Their responses reveal their sites’ existing level of preparedness for fire, weather and earthquake hazards. By understanding the situations these facilities face and the plans they have in place, OSH professionals can conduct insightful assessments and recommend proactive solutions for improving the emergency preparedness and response actions of libraries and similar facilities.
The Study Population: MOBIUS
In 1998, academic libraries in Missouri formed the MOBIUS Consortium (2009). These libraries and their academic communities range in size and specialty. At the time of this survey, 59 libraries were MOBIUS members. Directors of these facilities were invited via e-mail to complete an online survey about their sites’ preparedness procedures. Additional e-mails were sent to encourage an increased response. A total of 36 surveys were completed online for a 61% response rate.
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