I work in a public library in North Eastern Kansas. I'm sure you all saw that we had quite a bit of fun severe weather yesterday. (Side note: I always love watching the news shows after we've had tornadoes to see what gap-toothed, slack-jawed yokel they found to represent us. Let me assure you that there are many people in Tornado Alley who do not live in a trailer park, possess all our teeth, and are capable of putting together a complete, coherent sentence without the word "ain't".) Our library's policy is simple: keep the weather radio on, monitor the weather via the little program installed on our computer, announce thunder storm warnings, and tornado watches. Evacuate in case of Tornado warnings. (For those of you who don't know: watch is lower than warning and simply means that the conditions are right for these things to develop, we do not announce thunder storm watches.) All day yesterday, we are on a tornado watch and mid afternoon the sirens go off and we are upgraded to a warning. Immediately, we begin informing people.
Now I am the first to admit Kansans are fairly jaded about tornadoes, but most people do take it seriously, we just don't panic. We are supposed to immediately discontinue service and put little signs on all the desks that say that we've evacuated and where to go to get to the shelter. I'm trying to inform people that they have two choices: leave the library or come to the shelter with me. I was amazed by the arguing I got. Questions such as: "Are you sure there is a tornado warning?" Yes, can't you hear the sirens and our weather radio going crazy? "Won't I be safe enough here?" Nope, the architect decided to make an entire wall of windows which you're standing in front of, and every book on the shelf is a potential flying projectile. "Can you just check these few books out to me first?" Nope, policy is we don't endanger staff lives. (At this point people began to make a line at the self check machine, but they were still angry as it does not process DVDs.) Finally the person in charge had to order the clerks away from the desk. Staff was going to the shelter, and finally most of the patrons followed us. We didn't get a tornado that close to us (though many of our neighbors have a great deal of damage, the University of Kansas had to close and cancel classes), but this is our policy. The library's attitude is that in case of emergency staff makes a fair effort to warn people and evacuate, but if they choose to leave with our books, they leave with our books. The library also has a responsibility to protect their staff. I believe people would argue with us to check out their materials first even if the building were going up in flames in a dramatic, Backdraft style. We were only in there for 15 minutes before the all clear came, but it was a weird 15 minutes to just sit and stare at our library patrons. I've heard from my coworkers that they have been in there as long as an hour and a half.
So here is my question, not just the fun story of my first library evacuation, do any of the rest of you have troubles evacuating patrons for whatever reason? Fire? Bomb? (We have the world's funniest bomb threat procedure.) Earthquake? Tornado? Shooter?