Crisis Communication/Message Dissemination for Libraries ($)


  • Gregg Dodd, Director of Marketing and Communications, Columbus Metropolitan Library
  • Christine Feldmann, Director of Marketing and Communications, Anne Arundel County Public Library
  • Meghan McCorkell, Director of Marketing and Communications, Enoch Pratt Free Library


What do COVID-19, a violent crime and a cybersecurity breach have in common? They will all result in a likely impact on people, property and your library’s reputation. As your library faces one or more of these crisis scenarios, how can you and your organization survive and emerge stronger? Public libraries are faced with unique challenges in a 24-hour news cycle world. While the corporate sector has extensive business continuity plans in place, far fewer libraries have up-to-date crisis communication strategies and plans developed in order to protect their brand in a sudden emergency.

At its heart, crisis planning doesn’t actually mean preparing for the worst—it means preparing to avoid risk and maximize opportunity.

As crisis situations impact all areas of an organization, this pre-conference workshop benefits people in every role—from library leaders and communicators to emerging professionals from all backgrounds. During this interactive program, you’ll learn how to plan for and help your peers, partners and stakeholders weather a crisis and emerge stronger. You’ll walk away from the workshop with an actionable crisis communication plan outline.

Registration Fees

  • $119 Core Member & Maryland Library Association Member
  • $149 ALA Member
  • $189 Non ALA Member
  • $99 Student/Retired/Seeking Employment/International


What to Expect

  • A blend of interactive role-playing, instruction and group table-top exercises and discussion

Practical Knowledge Takeaways

  • Build a social media and organizational command structure so that your team is connected and informed throughout a crisis
  • Conduct crisis training exercises to expose potential communication and management vulnerabilities
  • Measure, manage and influence social media sentiment on issues key to your brand’s mission
  • Establish and foster relationships with the media to ensure your message gets the coverage it deserves
  • Create a social post, emergency websites and other digital assets in anticipation of a crisis
  • Train spokespeople and executives for potentially contentious interviews
  • Use live-streaming video on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms to mitigate a crisis
  • Develop an effective plan so your organization can respond quickly in the face of a crisis
  • Ensure your crisis efforts don’t slow down after the worst has passed so the company can come out of a crisis stronger than before

Pre-Conference Workshop Agenda

1:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Welcome and Introductions


1:15 pm – 1:45 pm
Crisis Situation 1: Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Main Library Shooting Incident
How would you react to a violent incident in one of your libraries? We’ll navigate the complexities of message dissemination during emergency situations by reviewing the shooting incident that took place in the summer of 2017 at Columbus Metropolitan Library. We’ll provide an overview of the incident and how the library’s team executed their crisis communications plan to protect their organization’s brand.

1:45 pm – 2:15 pm
Module 1: Crisis Communication Planning: The Fundamental Elements
Exploring the foundation of an effective crisis response plan is key, including decision criteria and levers of trust. Participants will learn the core principles of an effective crisis response plan centered on: People, Preparedness and Practice. We’ll address how to develop a 10 step plan and the drivers of trust in the context of fulfilling expectations amongst your library team. Learn the importance of key messages and who they should be shared with in order to quickly prevent reputational harm.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Spot the four types of crises and how to quickly react to them
  • Execute three critical elements around the execution of your plan now and into the future
  • Develop key message points and why they matter
  • Develop and adhere to a core set of standards that will guide your every action during a crisis

2:15 pm – 2:20 pm

Refreshment Break & Networking With Your Trainers and Peers


2:20 pm – 2:50 pm
Crisis Situation 2: Anne Arundel County Public Library Cyber Security Incident
How would you react to a ransomware attack on your library? We’ll navigate the complexities of message dissemination during an event that impacts business continuity by reviewing the cyberattack that took place in the spring of 2019 at Anne Arundel County Public Library. We’ll provide an overview of the incident and how the library’s team executed their crisis communications plan.

2:50 pm – 3:20 pm

Module 2: The Other Side of the Microphone Before, During and After a Crisis
Once a crisis starts, it’s too late to build strong relationships with the reporters that cover your library. The only way to make sure your library gets its side of the story accurately covered is to foster connections with the media long before they’re needed. Successful organizations realize the importance of proactive planning and preparation in ensuring their overall success and survival—media relations during a crisis is no different.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create a symbiotic relationship with the media to ensure your message gets the attention it deserves
  • React in a timely manner in a high pressure situation
  • Train spokespeople to handle the onslaught of media coverage that follows a crisis
  • Strategically secure interviews with thought leaders across the media spectrum to strengthen the brand’s message
  • Build trust with targeted journalists to make sure coverage is thorough, well balanced and continues after the company emerges from the crisis

3:25 pm – 3:55 pm

Crisis Situation 3: Pratt Free Public Library’s Response to the World-wide Pandemic and Drag Queen Storytimes
How would you pivot in the event that your library’s operations were shut down in a moment’s notice? What would your response be to a negative reaction to an inclusive storytime? We’ll navigate Enoch Pratt Free Public Library’s message dissemination during and response to Covid-19 and explore how Anne Arundel County Public Library responded to negativity to their most recent Drag Queen Storytimes. We’ll provide an overview of these events and how both library teams executed their crisis communications plans.

3:55 pm – 4:25 pm

Module 3: Social Media Survival Kit: Managing a Crisis From Facebook to Twitter
Online conversations about your library’s brand happen around the clock, and your savvy use of social media can make all the difference. We’ll share examples of how to closely manage your brand’s online reputation, prepare digital assets ready to deploy at a moment’s notice and deftly match your response to the social media platform.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create social posts and other digital assets in anticipation of a crisis
  • Build a social media and organizational command structure that keeps messaging precise and consistent
  • Activate allies to address criticism on social media
  • Use the latest tools, apps and services that have become essential to measuring and managing a crisis

4:25 pm – 4:50 pm

Crisis Communication Table Top Exercise
A crisis management team can only truly be ready for a crisis when it has evaluated its preparedness through crisis simulation tabletop exercises. Game day can be filled with anxiety for some less-experienced library staff. One of the main reasons that staff become anxious is that they’re not prepared for their crisis role and don’t understand role clarity. During this session, participants will work together to execute the principles learned throughout the day through deep discussion around a “fictional, but true” library crisis. The table top exercise will showcase this important preparedness that is used to measure potential communication and management vulnerabilities that can be corrected ahead of a real “game day.”

You’ll learn how to:

  • Draft individuals from a variety of departments that have the skills necessary to effectively manage high-stress emergency situation
  • Stimulate thought processes that helps you focus on the specific situation
  • Strengthen your understanding of the crisis management strategy, processes, plans and other related information
  • Identify issues, challenges and assumptions that results in obstacles in your message dissemination and identify the resources necessary to overcome obstacles

4:50 pm

Closing Remarks/Q&A

The event is finished.


Oct 07 2021


12:00 pm - 4:00 pm




  • Christine Feldmann
    Christine Feldmann
    Director of Marketing and Communications, Anne Arundel County Public Library

    Christine Feldmann currently serves as the director of marketing and communications where she provides strategic communications advice for the library CEO and Board of Trustees. She is responsible for all communications efforts on behalf of the library’s 16 branches and more than 300 full-time staff.

    Formerly, she served as deputy director of communications for Comptroller Peter Franchot and in positions of increasing responsibility for former Governor William Donald Schaefer during his tenure as Comptroller.

    Before officially joining state government, Ms. Feldmann was the communications manager for the Maryland Commission for Celebration 2000, an organization designed to commemorate the millennium.

    She began her career in special events at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and in media relations at the U. S. Naval Academy.

    Ms. Feldmann has a Master of Public Policy and Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Maryland.

    She and her husband Ray, live in Annapolis with their twins, Connor and Grace (13).

  • Gregg Dodd
    Gregg Dodd
    Director of Marketing, Columbs Metropolitan Library
  • Meghan McCorkell
    Director of Marketing and Communications, Enoch Pratt Free Library