Assess Your Library’s Crisis Preparedness

In order to manage communications during a crisis, you need to first know your organization’s Crisis Response Plan, i.e. what you will do in the event of a crisis. A crisis response plan may be complemented by a Continuity of Operations Plan, which describes how you will continue to operate (or not) in different types of situations, such as a large number of employees staying home due to illness.

If your organization does not yet have a Crisis Response or Continuity Plan, I recommend that you quickly designate someone to be in charge of creating one. In libraries, this responsibility typically resides with the Director of Security or Facilities; but depending on your structure, it could be a director, assistant director or some other responsible person. You can request examples from other libraries; most libraries are happy to share.

Once you know your crisis response plan, you can develop and implement your Crisis Communications Plan, which describes how you will communicate in the event of a crisis. This includes who will communicate, what they will say, what audiences need to hear the message, and how you will reach them. Here’s a blog post about creating a Crisis Communications Plan. 

The distinction between a Crisis Response Plan and a Crisis Communications Plan is an important one. Library leadership team members need to be clear on what their responsibilities are for responding to and communicating during a crisis. Otherwise, it’s easy for people to get overwhelmed when a crisis occurs and not know what to do.

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