What is a disaster and what are your plans?

I think we all can agree that something like fire, tornado, flood, earthquake are all disasters and hopefully libraries have some sort of contingency plans when those events happen.  But what about those “other” disasters.  I say other because they may not meet the standard definition of a disaster, but when they happen all work stops or something majorly impacts your productivity.

Marie Kennedy posted “Disaster planning for e-resources” on Organization Monkey about her library’s recent problems when EBSCO’s databases went down earlier this month.  “From a library perspective, when a major content provider goes down, it is a legitimate disaster. For electronic resources librarians, all the usual work stops and crisis management mode takes over.”  This is true for us as well.  Even if a major journal goes down we start getting calls right away from doctor’s wondering what happened.  If our linking system goes down or a major database goes down, then all *blank* hits the fan. 

Our operations are so dependent on certain programs that when they go down our access to information also goes down.  It may not be a disaster in the traditional sense of the word, but it is still a disaster for information retrieval. 

Marie describes the procedures her library use to inform library personnel and library users of situation.  She also mentions how frustrating it was for her and her library’s staff to go through this “without the help of EBSCO.”  In fact most librarians were reaching out through MEDLIB-L, Twitter, and other local listservs,  to try and figure out why CINAHL, Discovery, and other resources were DOA.

EBSCO is just the latest resource, but this sort of things has happened with Ovid, PubMed and other databases or online journals.  It also won’t be the last resource to experience a “temporary outage.”  So what are your library procedures for dealing with these events?  How do you notify your customers and does that vary according to the resource?