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Inclement Weather and Natural Disasters


Administrative Memo #2
Effective January 2002 
Replaces former #2, Library Emergencies

When the campus closes because of inclement weather, the UM Libraries will close.

In the event of snow during Monday through Friday, library staff should check the campus Web site, or call 301 405-1000301 405-1000, 301-405-SNOW301-405-SNOW (7669) or tune into local radio and television stations beginning at 6:00 am to hear if the University of Maryland, College Park campus is closed or campus opening will be delayed for a specific number of hours.  If no information is given, staff should assume the campus is open. If the campus is closed after library facilities have opened, the Office of the Dean of Libraries will be notified.  Staff will then be alerted to the time of closing. Do not call the Office of the Dean of Libraries. 

In the event of closing due to inclement weather during the evening or weekend, the following procedures will be followed: 

1.  If closing is declared AFTER library facilities have opened:

a. The Assistant Vice President - Facilities Management, in consultation with key Physical Plant staff, will evaluate the weather situation and decide about closing.

b. The Assistant Vice President - Facilities Management will call the Director of Public Services who will notify library staff in the following sequence:

    (1)    McKeldin Information and Research Services (McK Info calls McK Periodicals
         and Government Documents)
    (2)    McKeldin Circulation (McK Circ calls Reserves and Late Night Study) 
    (3)    Branch libraries, Special Collections and Nonprint Media Services 

c. It will be the responsibility of individual units to call staff who are scheduled for later shifts to tell them not to come to work.

d. All facilities should post some kind of signage on their doors indicating that the University has declared a snow emergency closing and noting the time and date.

2.    If the actual closure takes place BEFORE library facilities have opened: 

  Same as above in terms of AVP-Facilities Management calling the library Director of Public Services. 

  The Director of Public Services will call: 

(1) Team leader of McKeldin Information and Research Services, who will call unit heads or designee for Periodicals and Government Documents. 
(2) Team leader of Access Services, who will call unit head or designee for McKeldin Circulation, Reserves, and Late Night Study
(3) Branch heads or designees', will call staff Unit heads or designees' who will be responsible for staff assigned to work.

Natural Disasters and Alert Systems on Campus

What to do During an Earthquake

To stay as safe as possible during an earthquake: Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If Indoors
  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn't a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
If Outdoors
  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls.

Once the shaking has stopped, unless fire alarms are sounding in the building and/or there is structural damage, staff members should not evacuate the building. If there is structural damage, the building should be evacuated with extreme caution to avoid potentially hazardous areas, and work control should be called immediately at 5-2222. If there are injuries, notify the UMPD at 911 on a land line or #3333 from a cell phone and follow their instructions.

What to do During a Tornado

If Indoors

Go to the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.

If Outdoors
  • Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

UMD Alerts

The campus has an alert system that sends email and/or text messages in case of emergencies. It is highly recommended that staff members sign up for this service. Staff members can enroll by signing up at or via text by sending keyword "UMD" to 411911 and then following the instructions. The alert system notifies members not only of any potentially dangerous weather situations, but also for crime alerts and hazmat situations.

Campus Early Warning Siren System

The campus has an early warning siren system to warn campus members when there is an emergency situation. If the siren is going off, staff members should seek shelter and then check for any UMD Alerts messages, or the main page for UMD to see what the situation is. If there is an emergency, the siren will sound a steady tone for at least three minutes. The all clear tone is one short 30 second blast. The system is tested on the first Wednesday of every month at 11:55 a.m.


There is an ALERTUS panel in McKeldin Library in the lobby that should flash any emergency messages.