on preparing for the zombie apocalypse…

Way, way, way back when I was in library school, I remember our professor talking about developing policy and procedures manuals. “What would happen to your library and your program if, for some reason, you unexpectedly weren’t able to return to you position. Would the person taking over for you know how to keep your library running?”

Policies and Procedures are Boring…

So… This is a post about documenting and organizing your library’s policies and procedures manuals, but if I made that the title, let’s face it, it’d sound boring as hell and nobody would want to read it so let’s go with zombies instead!

Don’t Eat That Cannoli!!!

What would happen to your library and your program if you and the entirety of your staff were served delicious cream filled cannoli that, unbeknownst to you, were tainted with a parasite that turned all of you into zombies and thus, unable to fulfill the responsibilities and duties that you carry out so gracefully and effortlessly day in and day out?

Well realistically (because we should always be realistic when thinking through what we’d do in a zombie apocalypse) people would, you know, be trying to not have their faces eaten off by roaming hoards of zombies so I’m guessing that maybe database access or reserving study room space might not be at the VERY TOP of everyone’s lists of of things to do, but let’s just go with this and see what happens… 🤣🤣🤣

Anyway… Would the surviving souls (plural because they’re gonna find out that each member of a library staff does at least 1.5 FTE amount of work) asked to fill your sizable shoes know that the library opens at 7:30 AM everyday? Would they know how to start-up and login to all of your hardware? Would your database subscriptions get renewed on time? Would they know how to order new books? Would they know how to process new books that have been ordered and received?

Documenting is One Thing…

My staff and I have been trying to think through, document, and organize all of the tasks that we do over the course of a school year. The task is a lot harder than you’d think simply because we do so much of our work automatically. It’s hard to describe a task that you do virtually automatically in writing on a page. You need to include enough detail so that the instructions are clear, yet concise enough so that the instructions are so overwhelming that they are virtually unusable.

We started by making time to document tasks as we did them. As I saw our library assistant processing new books there was a constant stream of “Can you please write down EVERYTHING YOU DO from the time that you open the box to the time you put the book on the ‘to be cataloged’ cart in the workroom, please?”

Need to order copy paper for the Faculty Work Room? Here’s how you do it…

Organizing for Discovery is Another…

Getting all of your disparate instructions for various tasks together is one thing, but putting them together and organizing them in some form so that another human being might actually be able to find and make use of them is completely another!

In our case, Nicole, new AISL blogger and the librarian I have worked with and shared an office with for the last 10 years will be taking over as Director of Library Services here next year so we largely left the task of putting our various documents together to the person who, ultimately, will be the one looking for them 5 months from now. Here is her organizational scheme. Ultimately, I’m guessing that in the event of a zombie apocalypse even someone who is not Nicole, would be able to look through the folder list and figure out where to look for what they needed.

Note: Every library needs a *Library Junk Drawer 🤣🤣🤣

Institutional Access is Key…

When I took over as Director of Library Services here 10 years ago, one of the most challenging things to deal with was the fact that Shared Google Drives were not yet available so most of our library’s documents were owned by my predecessor. Though the document was shared with people who still worked at the institution and IT services purposely kept my predecessor’s gmail account active, there is something deeply unsettling about relying on Google docs and sheets to manage your program THAT YOU DO NOT OWN!!! It was a long process, but we eventually transferred ownership of all of our documents.

A number of years ago, our school started the process of moving important common documents such as library policy and procedures manuals to SHARED DRIVES owned by the school rather than by individual employees who may retire or move on to other adventures, but if you’re in the process of creating your library’s polices and procedures manuals, consider ways to assure that they’ll be accessible long after you have moved on.

What Else…?

My next task is to go through everything that lives on our library’s Libguides site and make sure that every linked slideshow, image, and document get moved to our shared drive space so that should a Libguide get reused in the future, that eveything will be able to be revised and updated.

What else should go into a policies and procedures manual? What else should I do before I consume that last delicious cannoli, become a zombie, and head off into the sunset?

Please hit reply below and make a suggestion. We need to know what we’ve missed!

Thank you!

5 thoughts on “on preparing for the zombie apocalypse…

  1. This is so important — and usually the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get busy! Do you have a calendar/schedule of programming and recurring events for the year?

  2. Ooooh!!! This is good! We currently do not have a calendar or list of recurring events. Additionally, we have a WHOLE HOST of shared Google calendars (MS/HS Bell Schedule, Library Lessons, Space Reservations…) that we use so we should have a list to lets someone know that they exist! Thanks, Lianne!

  3. I call this “hit by a bus” documentation, as in, have I detailed my procedures enough so that the work could carry on if I got hit by a bus one day? Maybe that’s a little dark but, you know, so is a zombie apocalypse! We have the good fortune of having several parent volunteers each week and so to support them, we have created a binder full of printed procedures (with pictures!) for how to do all of our processing including applying barcodes, spine labels, property stamps, and all the cover protection. That was a great way to practice formatting really detailed procedures and it has also been super helpful when our staff has been hit by sudden illness, maternity leave, extended vacation, etc. and we need our volunteers to be able to work relatively independent of direct supervision.

  4. The shared Google Drive is key so the information isn’t just in one person’s Google account. We have been working on migrating items for the past year. Thanks for the reminder about how important this is—even sans zombies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *