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Emergency and Disaster Policy

Carbon Monoxide (CO2) and Fire Alarms

In the event that a carbon monoxide or fire alarm sounds, employees are to immediately evacuate the building and call 911. Employees should monitor all entrances to the building to ensure no unauthorized personnel enter the building. 

Emergency Closure and Pandemic Response Plan

In the event that the library is faced with emergency closure due to extended inclement weather or power outages (more than three business days), acts of war, a pandemic, a disaster, or similar situation, the library shall proceed through three levels prior to closure:

Level 1 – Precautionary Measures

In the event of anticipated non-health related issues, the library will endeavor to communicate with library users prior to moving to Level 2. 

In the event of increased communicable illnesses, the library will add precautionary measures to include: 

  • Adding additional cleaning supplies.
  • Performing additional routine cleaning of high touch points. 
  • Promoting healthy habits among employees and patrons.
  • Creating social distancing standards for computer users and program users, and for interaction with staff and volunteers.
  • Reducing contact with difficult to clean items or areas. For example: removing toys, games, and puzzles from the children’s room; redirecting returned items to an isolated location for cleaning or quarantine; minimizing contact between patrons and staff at the circulation desk by scanning library cards and materials in patron hands rather than passing them back and forth with staff.

Level 2 – Modified or Reduction in Operating Hours or Services

The library will continue with Level 1 Precautionary Measures, and as necessary:

  • Reduce or suspend library programming.
  • Reduce or suspend community room use.
  • Reduce, modify, or suspend services. 
  • Reduce hours of operation. 
  • Reduce or suspend services that rely on the North Country Library System such as interlibrary loans, hold processing, and delivery between member libraries.

Level 3 – Closure

The library will completely close the building to the public and suspend all in-person programs, services, and events. Reasons may include, but are not limited to:

  • Safety of employees or patrons is at risk. 
  • Security of the building is at risk.
  • Public visitation is too low to warrant keeping the building open and fully staffed.
  • Employees are too ill to work, have self-quarantined, or are under mandatory quarantine by health officials.
  • Employees are under a stay-at-home order by government agencies. 
  • Recommendations by recognized library organizations such as the New York Library Association (NYLA) and/or the American Library Association (ALA).
  • Recommendations or mandates by local, county, state, or federal agencies.

Working From a Remote Location During an Emergency Closure

Some emergency circumstances allow for some, or all, staff to work remotely, whether from home or another approved location. Working remotely allows for the library to maintain a connection to the community and also allows for a continuation of work flow for projects, programs, services, continuing education, and other tasks that do not directly involve the public through in-person or face-to-face contact. 

Remote Meetings and Open Meetings Law

Some emergency circumstances allow for remote meetings for the purpose of conducting library business, whether in the form of a regular library board meeting or an emergency meeting. When allowed by State Executive Order, or through Open Meetings Law, the library shall endeavor to conduct business in a safe and secure environment via remote access technology (ie, Zoom or other platform) while adhering to existing or modified NYS guidelines. 

Resuming Partial or Full Service Following an Emergency Closure

The library will resume regular operations on a partial or full basis as soon as reasonably possible, depending on recommendations by government officials, library trustees, and other recognized organizations. 

In the event of an extended closure, a partial re-opening may be warranted to allow the library to resume some services while still mitigating other problems or issues.

In some cases, re-opening may be dictated in part by the accessibility of supplies – for example, cleanup after a flood, fire, or natural disaster. In the case of a public health emergency or pandemic, the availability of disinfecting supplies and personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, or other protection) may dictate how quickly the library can proceed from one level to the next. 

For a public health emergency or pandemic response, staff shall maintain social distance (one person per workspace) and clean high-touch areas on a frequent basis and between users until public health officials recommend or permit otherwise. 

In all cases, the health, wellness, and safety of library employees, library patrons, and the greater community must be balanced with the programs and services offered by the library. 

General guidelines include those below. Specific guidelines as mandated or recommended by state, county, or local agencies will be implemented on an as-needed basis until normal library operations are resumed. Such policies shall be found in the Appendix. 

Level 1 – Closure

  • Library service hours may be limited or modified as needed, and as allowed by state minimum standards.
  • Library building is closed to the public.
  • Some staff work in the building on modified schedules, as allowed.
  • Staff are responsive to telephone calls, emails, and messages on social media.
  • Mail is opened and processed.
  • Book drop is emptied and cleaned as needed.
  • Financial responsibilities are fulfilled – payroll and bills are processed on schedule.
  • Custodial services are performed.
  • Book sale donations suspended.
  • Non-emergency building maintenance projects by outside contractors may be worked on, as allowed.

Level 2 – Closure

  • Library service hours may be limited or modified as needed, and as allowed by state minimum standards.
  • Library building is closed to the public.
  • Some or all staff work in the building on regular or modified schedules.
  • Collection development work resumes if previously suspended – materials ordered, processed, cataloged, and shelved.
  • Collection maintenance activities such as shelf-reading, weeding, inventory, and reconfiguration of work or public spaces may be done.
  • Work performed at home is transferred back to the library and work routines are restored.
  • The library is readied for the next phase (or phases).
  • If health or safety is not a concern, volunteers with specific skills may be utilized to help facilitate the transition.
  • Staff shall maintain social distancing, when appropriate, and increase sanitization between shifts. 

Level 3 – Partial reopening

  • Library service hours may be limited or modified as needed, and as allowed by state minimum standards.
  • Library building is closed to the public or limited to a designated area inside of the building (ie lobby).
  • Some or all staff work in the building on regular or modified schedules.
  • Some public services are restored outside of the building or in a designated area inside the building which may include a partial implementation of circulation services through no-contact pick-up of library materials. 
  • Restoration of interlibrary loan (dependent on the North Country Library System).

Level 4 – Partial reopening

  • Library service hours may be limited or modified as needed, and as allowed by state minimum standards.
  • Library building is open but public access is limited to a designated area(s) inside of the building.
  • Some or all staff work in the building on regular or modified schedules.
  • Limited technology services such as printing or faxing may resume through remote methods.

Level 5 – Partial reopening

  • Library is open to the public with regular hours of operation.
  • Access to areas may be restricted based on best practices.
  • Library programs and services are provided on a limited schedule.
  • Regularly scheduled community organizations may be allowed to resume meeting in the community room on a limited basis, as allowed by law or health department guidelines.
  • Reservations for private community room activities may be taken when a date for Stage 6 implementation is confirmed.
  • For a pandemic response, social distancing and sanitary accommodations are in place to include:
    • Moving public seating and computers 6-feet apart.
    • Limiting the number of people allowed in each area (or the building) at the same time.
    • Limiting computer use (or scheduling computers by appointment) to allow for adequate sanitation between users.
    • Closing some areas to the public to reduce sanitation (ie, staff will retrieve materials upon request for patrons).
    • Reducing contact with contaminated materials by using a designated area for returns prior to quarantining or cleaning.
    • Scanning library cards and materials while in patron hands rather than passing them to staff.

Level 6 – Open

  • Library is open to the public for regular hours of operation.
  • All business is conducted as usual.
  • All library programs and services are provided as normal.
  • Community room reservations by the public are restored.
  • All volunteers may resume community service hours.
  • Book sale donations will be accepted.


In the event that a Level 2 or Level 3 Closure is enacted, the library will adjust policies regarding loans to forgive overdue fines, extend due dates, and/or increase hold and checkout limits in order to provide as much continued library service as is reasonable. The Director will communicate board-approved modifications to the North Country Library System. 

In the event that a Level 2 or Level 3 Closure is enacted, the library will cancel in-person programs, community room reservations, and enact emergency policy modifications as is reasonable as a result of the closure. The Director will notify program attendees and coordinators. 

As the library moves between Levels of Partial or Full Service Reopening, the library will phase in services and programs with guidance from local, county, and state officials, and with guidance from the North Country Library System. 

Changes in status will be communicated to the community via signage, social media, and news outlets. 

The library Director shall maintain regular contact with staff and trustees for the duration of the emergency.

The library will cooperate with authorities to the extent that patron and employee confidentiality is maintained and upheld within the law.

Fire Extinguishers/Exit Floor Plan

Employees should familiarize themselves with the placement of the fire extinguishers as well as emergency exits. There are floor plans posted throughout the building highlighting these designated areas.

Health and Safety Equipment

The library will provide personal protective equipment (PPE) as recommended by law and as each situation warrants, and to the extent possible. This may include gloves, masks, goggles, hearing protection, and/or other appropriate health and safety equipment. 

Employees must wear appropriate health and safety equipment according to library policy, when required by health and safety officials, or when mandated by local, state, or federal regulations or laws.

Incident Reports

A written incident report shall be completed when an emergency involves the health or safety of a library patron or employee.

Infectious Diseases

In the event of an infectious disease outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic, the library will follow all recommendations as provided by local, county, state, and federal agencies including:

Screening and testing of employees and essential visitors using recommended procedures from the health department or responsible agency. The library is prohibited from keeping records of employee health data. (e.g. temperature data). When an employee or essential visitor screens positive for an infectious disease, the library will follow recommended procedures from the health department or responsible agency to implement social distancing, increased hand hygiene and sanitizing, or send the employee home to contact a healthcare provider for further assessment and testing. 

The library will not mandate that patrons complete a health screen or provide contact information but may encourage patrons to do so. The library will provide an option for patrons to provide contact information so they can be logged and contacted for contact tracing, if necessary.

Medical or Health Emergencies

In the event of a health or medical emergency, employees are to immediately call 911. The library maintains a small first aid kit and NARCAN kit at the circulation desk.

Minimizing Accident Risk

Minimizing accidents is a collaborative effort between patrons and employees by ensuring that:

  • Slip and fall incidents are minimized by keeping floors clean, dry, and free of debris.
  • Children’s toys remain in the children’s room and away from the main traffic pathways and stairwell.
  • Children’s books and toys are put away after use; no books or toys should be left scattered around the children’s room. 
  • Spills or wet floors are marked with caution signs.
  • Extension cords are taped down or clearly marked.
  • Heavy or awkward objects are lifted and moved with the assistance of another person, a hand-truck or cart.


If an employee is working alone at the library and identifies an unauthorized and suspicious individual or vehicle in the parking lot or on the grounds, they are to call the Sheriff’s Department at (315) 379-2222 and ask for the patrol division. The employee is to provide a description of the vehicle or individual(s) involved.

Employees wishing to leave their personal vehicles in the parking lot when the library is closed must receive approval from the Director.