A disastrous kick in the teeth


I’m use to being told that Librarian as a profession are surely obsolete with the access we have to good quality information. I have a pretty standard reply that notes the quality of peoples research skills will mean I should have a secure job until retirement. So I can find the lyrics to that obscure 1950’s television sitcom theme song that you spent hours on last night. I can find you images on the digestion system of a koala and while I’m at it find a complete list of books read by William Shatner.

But in an emergency, it seems I’m less than useful.

A reply to my last entry by Crystal of the Crystal Conundrum reminded me of this unsettling fact. That in the case of a man-made or natural disaster, library staff at my council will not be required. Though you might think that knowing you are not needed in cleanup and emergency support after such an event would be a wonderful relief. No guilt over not sticking around and if people ask questions about why you didn’t help you can just say in your best John Cleese voice, “Oh sorry, I’m not qualified!”

But human egos’ don’t work like that.

It all started with a large series of meeting where council management planned what steps it could take in the occurrence of flood, terrorist attack, asteroid strike and such like dramatic disasters. It was at one of these meetings that it was decided that even though the Library building would be useful as a shelter for victims or as a makeshift headquarters there were no skills that the staff possessed that could make them useful at such a time.

So I’m wondering how my training has let me down? Should I have taken that Occupational Health and Safety subject on Counter-Terrorism? Do we need as part of our yearly Fire Safety and Emergency Evacuation refresher a update on surviving an environmental holocaust?

What’s worse, once us librarians are turfed out of our libraries at the end of the world, with the streets clogged with panicking people, public transport links down, how are we suppose to get home?


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