Disaster Preparedness & Recovery

Librarian’s Disaster Planning and Community Resiliency Guidebook and Workbook

National Preparedness Month takes place every September and is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the US Department of Homeland Security. One goal of Homeland Security is to educate the public about how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies, and terrorist attacks.

Would you be ready if there were an emergency? Would your library? Be prepared: assemble an emergency supply kit, make your emergency plans, stay informed, and get involved in helping your family, your library, and your community be ready for emergencies.

PrepareAthon! is a grassroots campaign by FEMA for action to increase community preparedness and resilience. With that goal in mind, the New Jersey State Library commissioned the Librarian’s Disaster Planning and Community Resiliency Guidebook and Workbook to help libraries in New Jersey and across the country to be better prepared to accept the new mantle of responsibility being thrust on them as a safe haven in times of crises. First, these new resources will help make your library more resilient so that you can return to operations quickly. Second, we have provided guidance on how libraries can help speed the recovery of their community, and are key contributors to a resilient community.

Michele Stricker, Deputy State Librarian, Lifelong Learning, Library Development, New Jersey State Library

For further information contact

Michele Stricker
Deputy State Librarian for the Library Development Bureau


Join others around the country to practice your preparedness!

Disaster Planning Slip Sheet

Disaster comes in all shapes and sizes, from natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes to emergencies like fire, leaking roofs, and mold. An emergency can easily spiral into a disaster if you and your library are not prepared to respond.

Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)

The Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) is a concise document for recording essential information needed by staff in case of a disaster or other emergency. Every person having a response-related assignment should carry a COOP with them at all times. Click here to download the Plan.

Ports in a Storm

The Library as Community Partner in Disaster Response

When disaster strikes, where do you go? After Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York in late October 2012, people went to their local library. Many community libraries were pressed into service as ad hoc Disaster Response Centers. Even though they may have sustained great damage to their own buildings, librarians rallied and were in the forefront of providing services and information to those in need, as well as respite from the storm. Unless under water or without power, our libraries were open, and were the place residents flocked to the morning after Sandy passed, accessing computers and free wireless to conduct business; to work from “home”; to contact relatives or their insurance companies; find tree removal specialists; fill out FEMA forms; or just to power up their devices and warm up. Libraries truly served their communities as ports in a storm.


National Network Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region, recently completed the following video highlighting the role of public libraries after an emergency.  The goal was for public librarians to show to first-responder groups, city councils, local government, etc. to promote the role public libraries play.  Many groups are not aware of all public libraries can and already do for the community and first responders and libraries have indicated that a video would be the best method to communicate this message:

Online videos and webinars are a great source of easily accessible information that can be viewed at any time and can be invaluable when, due to time and money constraints, traditional seminars, talks, or classes are not an option.

September is National Preparedness Month

Take time to learn lifesaving skills − such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornados. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.

Each week in September, the campaign will focus on a different aspect of preparedness for individuals, families and communities.

Click here for more information.