Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Settling into a New Semester

I had every intention of writing a mass of posts for Library Cloud as soon as Diane invited me to participate, but as often happens my good intentions got blind-sided by reality. Preparing for fall semester and getting through those first couple of weeks with sanity intact became my only goal and poor Library Cloud has had to wait a bit until I could think clearly again <grin>. Now that we're into the third week of classes, I find myself, like many of my fellow University of Akron colleagues, more than a bit frustrated and wondering about the sanity of the world at large.

If you've been keeping up with the news, UA is one of those universities recently plagued by bomb threats (CBS News | FBI Probing University Bomb Threats). We've had some buildings closed for parts of the day and classes canceled or moved to other buildings as the police painstakingly went through each inch of the threatened buildings to check for explosives.

So instead of the usual beginning of semester computer problems and confused freshmen, we've had to deal with bomb threats. Needless to say, everyone is a bit jittery but overall, the campus has come closer together in the face of these threats. With the assistance of local and state police and the FBI, UA is taking every threat seriously, informing the campus community in a timely manner, and diligently investigating every lead. Counselors are available for anyone suffering from stress over these issues.

At the library, we have been reviewing our emergency procedures and doing our best to present a calm face to our colleagues and students, reassuringly going about our normal business as usual, but more alert to our surroundings. Over my 27 years in librarianship, I've encountered the verbally abusive, the mentally ill, sex in the stacks, theft, fights, lost children, strange and unusual things left in bookdrops and in books themselves, and, of course, people without a clue. This is my first experience of a bomb threat, but I have to admit, I do feel safe here.

Why do I feel safe here? Well, I think it's the regular communication with the campus at large that does it for me. Like most people, if I know what's going on it's more difficult to panic over imagined possibilities. Seeing more of a police presence on campus is also reassuring. Folks on campus can have no doubt about how serious UA is in terms of dealing with these threats.

So as we wait for answers (who is responsible for these threats and why), we continue our daily routines. Students continue to come to the library, asking for help with research databases, and learning how to print from the Library's many computers. Library faculty and staff continue on as usual, working with students, attending committee meetings, and maybe being a bit more vigilant than usual. And all of us are thankful to the UA Police, the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, and the UA Administration for their efforts in keeping us all safe.

1 comment:

Diane Schrecker said...

New at AU this year is the Emergency Contact System from e2Campus. I have been urging student workers in the IRC to sign up, especially in light of the happenings at UA and other academic venues. The service enables the campus community to sign up for text message, email, and/or rss feed alerts for "emergency situations, severe weather advisories, school closings, and major event cancellations."

I agree with Karen's assertation and second that I feel safe on my University campus. Having ECS in place adds another layer to that safety; I signed up for rss and email notification (I should do text as well, but so often do not turn on my phone!).