Official State of Iowa Website

Disaster Preparedness Toolkit

In the past few years, Iowa libraries have experienced a pandemic, derechos, tornados, local and regional flooding, civic unrest, and more. While having a plan doesn’t make these events easy, it will make handling them easier. With the right policy and plans in place, it won’t matter if a tornado hits during the height of summer reading, or if the pipes burst during a major winter program you’ve planned, you’ll be prepared.

The State Library created this Disaster Preparedness Toolkit in conjunction with the 2022 Learning Circuit. Find all the resources you need here to prepare and respond to natural disasters and beyond.

Disaster Response Plan Template

The State Library developed a Disaster Response Plan template in Word to give libraries a starting point based on best practices in emergency preparedness planning. Very large libraries and very small libraries may need to modify based on their unique needs; one size certainly does not fit all. 

The template is based on the publication prepared by the Vermont Historical Records Program. Elements of the plan were developed by Samantha Bouwers (State Library CE Consultant), with information gathered from the following sources:

Plan Elements

  • Immediate Response Plan
  • Disaster Response Team and Phone Tree
  • Emergency and Other Important Services Contacts
  • Insurance Information and Value Estimations
  • Facilities Information
  • Disaster Supply Checklist
  • Salvage Priorities
  • Schedule for Review and Revision

State Library District Consultants presented an overview of the plan template at the 2022 Learning Circuit. View the Overview Presentation Slides or download the Word doc at the link below.

Download the Disaster Response Plan Template


Think about how you would respond to these potential scenarios:

  • Overnight, a nearby river overflows and water enters the library; several collections suffer water damage.
  • A major blizzard hits town; in addition to the ice and snow, the power is out with no ETA for restoration and large tree limbs are down around the library and on the roof. 
  • The library director abruptly quits or is fired by the library board. The remaining staff - a full-timer and 3 part-timers - are left to deal with the fallout.
  • The library shares a building with city hall; during library working hours, a disgruntled city employee enters the city hall side of the building and you begin to hear shots being fired. 
  • Just as kids are pouring in for the library's after school program, the sky begins to turn green and a tornado warning is issued.
  • Outside of library working hours, a freight train derails on a bridge near the library and dumps dangerous fertilizer chemicals. 
  • A protest and counter-protest are scheduled in town over a contentious federal law. A large crowd gathers on the town square across the street from the library during business hours. The police are on hand, but things start getting out of hand when protesters start smashing windows of nearby businesses and getting aggressive.

Recommended Reading

The titles below are available from the State Library's Library Science collection. Click the link below each title to go to the catalog, and submit a request in SILO for the book to be checked out and sent to your library via IA Shares.

Crash Course in Disaster Preparedness

Crash Course in Disaster Preparedness.jpg

by Carmen Cowick

View in Catalog

View in Bridges

The Disaster Planning Handbook for Libraries

The Disaster Planning Handbook for Libraries.jpg

by Mary Grace Flaherty

View in Catalog

Disaster Response and Planning for Libraries

​​​​​Disaster Response and Planning for Libraries.jpg

by Miriam B. Kahn

View in Catalog

Library as Safe Haven: Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery

Library as Safe Haven- Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery.jpg

by Deborah D. Halsted, Shari Clifton, and Daniel T. Wilson

View in Catalog