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OPAL Advanced: A Way to Get Your Library Up and Running After a Disaster

On April 8, 2013, a Disaster Recovery Summit -- Ports in a Storm: the Library as Community Disaster Recovery Center -- took place at the Sheraton Eatontown sponsored by the New Jersey State Library in partnership with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine - Middle Atlantic Region (NN/LM MAR), LibraryLinkNJ (LLNJ), and New Jersey Library Association. The goal was to bring public librarians together with the emergency planning community, first responders, public health workers and community-based and faith-based groups charged with disaster-related responsibilities, and to provide a forum for discussing roles libraries and information professionals can play in supporting future disaster preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

One of the presenters, Dan Wilson, coordinator of the Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative of the NN/LM, outlined a planning exercise for libraries called OPAL -- One Page All Libraries-- a 15 week online service continuity plan for libraries, that would create a simple, one-page document to help a library get its services up and running again, as quickly as possible, after a disaster. Participation was voluntary.

OPAL (One Page All Libraries) Advanced Training ConferenceOn Sept. 25, 2013, librarians who completed the 15 week exercise, were invited to a full-day conference at the Sheraton Eatontown to develop OPAL Advanced, a new pilot training program. Its goal is two-fold:

1) Improve workplace readiness, and    

2) Increase the value of the library/library staff in their community.  Outcomes would include greater workplace readiness, focusing on improved response to unexpected disasters and improved power and communication strategies, and increased involvement of library staff in community emergency planning and response structure.

Pictured are, from left: Michelle Burda, Network and Advocacy Coordinator (NN/LM MAR), Cheryl O’Connor, executive director of LLNJ, and Ralph Bingham, Gloucester County Library.

At the meeting they:

  • discussed the NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region Emergency Preparedness & Recovery structure and  services,
  • reviewed the one page service continuity plans,
  • performed a group table-top exercise and after-action review.

For their efforts, those who attended were entered into a drawing to receive a new Powermate Sx 5500 watt manual start generator.

West Deptford Public Library wins generatorThe generator was won by the West Deptford Public Library. From left Marie Downes, library director; Ed Marlin, custodian; Cheryl Rheiner, reference librarian.

The generator features a 389cc OHV manual start gas engine with low-oil shutdown for engine protection. The seven gallon gas tank, with fuel gauge, runs up to 11 hours at 50 percent load. The control panel contains, (4) 120V 20 amp, (1) 120/240V 30 amp, and circuit breaker protection. The unit is equipped with automatic voltage regulation, dual mode hour meter. 

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