Five years ago, I was woken up by my assistant – the Hackley School library was on fire. Ten hours and 21 fire companies later there was nothing left. Needless to say, there was shock and sorrow, but also an incredible opportunity.
Since then I’ve presented to others on Disaster Preparation, at ALA 2009, ALA 2011 and ASLA 2011, and was asked to write an article for the January 2012 issue of School Library Monthly entitles “When Disaster Strikes: The Hackley School Fire” Am I an expert? Of a sort. However, it should be noted that in the course of our rebuilding the facility and the collection, mistakes were made.
What mistakes? Rebuilding the collection was done in 2007, and the digital resources available could have been researched a little more carefully. Some of the fiction bought never circulated. Not arguing forcefully enough for some of the changes that should have been made to the facility (for example, better sightlines). I’ll even admit that my goal of not letting the public see the stress may have convinced people that there was none – something that may have caused strain on my staff.
Overall, though, it was an incredible experience and one that I’m actually glad I went through. And if you go here and scroll down, there’s a great video of the history of Goodhue Memorial Hall, home to the Hackley library since 1984.