At the end of March, I was tasked with completed a Disaster Information Specialist certification for my library. Since 2007, I have been actively involved in local disaster planning and I’ve completed dozens of the Homeland Security online classes and developed the disaster plan for our library, so this wasn’t exactly new territory for me. But actually sitting down for a week to complete the requirements was a pretty time consuming task. In other words, I wouldn’t recommend embarking on this certification while in the middle of an ELMS semester. During a break however, this is a great program for all librarians to become familiar with. As a bonus, our ELMS instructor Dr. Cleveland is one of the presenters in part of the topic presentations!
The program is administered by the Medical Library Association but you do not have to be a member to obtain certification. Two levels of certification are offered: basic and advanced. The cost of certification is the same for either level so I would recommend you attempt the advanced level. You can find the curriculum requirements listed here and the application form here.
Basically, you complete a series of webinars and online symposium presentations relating to disaster training. The basic level requires 5 specific courses but, at the advanced level, you are given hundreds of choices for classes so you can tailor you learning to those most applicable to your situation. Some of the courses require final assessments and/or surveys in order to complete them. All of the courses are free. Some paid courses are available for credit but, honestly, with the hundreds of free ones eligible, there is really no reason to pay for a course for this certification. Once completed, you fill out the application and pay the certification fee ($55 for non MLA members, $75 for everyone else).
I would recommend this to anyone working in the library field. You will gain knowledge to help both your library and your local community in times of disasters. For my classes, for example, I choose those relating to assisting children, the elderly, and rural areas in times of disasters since those fit directly in line with our library’s current outreach services. I think it would be beneficial for every library to have at least one person obtain this certification because the knowledge will prove invaluable should disaster strike.