I hope everyone took a few minutes to read Eugene Giudice's post on May 13 titled "Your Library Needs a Business Continuity Plan." As recent events, both natural and man-made, have reminded us, libraries are not immune to disasters and the aftermath of a disaster is no time to put together a plan for responding to one-let alone a plan for restoring business operations.
Before you can create a business continuity plan, you will need to conduct a self-assessment to identify the major threats in your region and take stock of your library's existing disaster planning documents (if any exist). In his book Disaster Planning for Special Libraries, Guy Robertson describes the process of determining the greatest threat as the Primary Risk Focus (PRF). Each region will have a different PRF, but it is defined as the "risk or series of related risks that people are especially aware of." For coastal areas, the PRF that could be a hurricane or tsunami, for large cities, terrorism; and in geologically active regions, an earthquake or volcanic eruption. I work in a library located very close to a small river, and the PRF for our area is flooding.
Once you have defined your PRF, take some time to reflect on the risks that the PRF poses to your organization and library and the steps you would need to take in the event those risks are realized. If you can, access your library's disaster management plan and compare that to your PRF analysis. Does the documentation consider risks outside of your PRF? You can also take steps to understand the history of disasters in your region and in your organization. Consider how these disasters occurred, and were there missed opportunities to mitigate the damage?
Understanding the PRF for your library and the state of your organizational disaster plan are important first steps on your way to preparing a business continuity plan that will keep your library functioning when faced with a disaster.
Science Collections Coordinator and Environmental Sciences Librarian
Michigan State University Librariestans@msu.edu