Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 289 — 2016
Believe me, this was the ﬁrst time I was thankful for having a
nondescript oﬃce with no windows! I was glad that we could oﬀer
some shelter and comfort to those kids.
Now, several months after the incident and after a campus task force
reviewed the events of the day to make recommendations for the future,1
there are some key points worth sharing with other libraries:
1. Jerry Garcia once said that “the situation is the boss.” In an active
shooter situation, that is especially true. What happens will evolve
quickly and will be determined by the actions of the shooter(s)
and police. As much as those of us in senior library administrative
positions might like to think we’re in charge, we are not in situations
like these. The police will take over, and they will not stop to ask
questions until they know they have time to do that.
2. Whichever staﬀ and/or student employees happen to be on duty
will be put to the test, and they will end up handling the situation
to the best of their abilities. They will be called on to respond, and
we will have to rely on their good judgement in the chaos of the
moment as well as the tedium of an extended event.
3. Students will come to the library to seek refuge. They seem to have
an innate understanding that we care about them, and it was clear
at UCLA that they trust us to help them. Library staﬀ will end up
being the people the students seek to provide comfort, advice,
and support. We need to educate our campus administrations and
emergency responders about this so they will know they may ﬁnd
large numbers of people in the libraries and also that adhering to a
lockdown order will be diﬃcult unless there is an imminent threat.
4. Communication will be problematic. Whether it is false reports
coming through social media or incomplete information from the
campus, it is highly likely that there will be signiﬁcant breakdowns