Law Librarians: An effective strategy for coping with disaster is vital to efficient recovery and continuous functioning of your firm's law library.
By Jaye A.H. Lapachet|April 04, 2006 at 12:00 AM
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Disaster planning is no laughing matter. Like immunizations, it has to be done; none of us want to create a plan, but, when done, we will be happy to have it at hand if we are ever in such a crisis. The only way for a law firm library to provide support to attorneys following a disaster is to be prepared. If you don’t already have a library disaster plan in place, read this article, drop everything else and get to work. SURVEY First step: Fill out the Business Continuity template at www.subjectsmatter.com. The template was created by a volunteer group of law librarians who met through the Northern California Association of Law Librarians. It will take some time and may require some digging for information, but it will help you with the most important part, which is to identify what you need to get operations restarted. What must be replaced first and what is irreplaceable in the event that your entire library is destroyed? Which books? Which equipment? Don’t rely solely on management enthusiasm for business continuity. Business continuity and disaster planning are important to all firm administrators, but they may not have the time to make it a priority. Make your plans anyway. Second step: Modify the template, when necessary, to suit your library’s needs. The template posted at Subjects Matter is specifically geared toward law firm libraries. You may need to modify the plan as you fill it out because it must fit your individual library’s needs to be of any real value. For example, if your library has a systems librarian in charge of all library backups, incorporate that into the template. Also, some firms will have print materials that cannot be replaced. If your firm does, identify these materials and start scanning them. You may need to get permission from the copyright holder. PREPARE Third step: You will need a method of carrying data with you. There are a number of portable storage devices that can meet your needs. Figure out a storage method that suits the demands of your data. One good solution is to acquire a personal digital assistant. You can also use a flash drive or a portable hard drive. Using an electronic device allows you to store nearly all of the information your library needs to keep functioning. Never leave this PDA in the library; keep it with you. If budget is a consideration, talk with your IT department. An attorney may have upgraded and the IT folks may have a PDA around that they would be thrilled to give you. Think about your comfort level as well. Are you better with paper? If so, print lists and store them in the binder with your plan. You will need multiple copies of the binder, and all copies should have the same information and be updated on the same schedule. The template suggests keeping one in the office, one at home and one in your car. You may want to send one to a branch library in another state. Information you may want to include:
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