Section 1: What Is Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines Continuity of Operations (COOP) as an effort within an agency to ensure that its essential functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies.

Types of emergencies include:

Tropical hurricane approaching the USA.

Localized acts of nature

Fire In An Old Building.


Photo of a computer hacker.

Technological or attack-related emergencies

Icon of checklist on a clipboard.



Continuity Plan

Having a plan in place in case of emergencies takes away the guesswork when ensuring your library’s continuity of operations during and after an event.

A Continuity Plan is the written version of your COOP effort. A Continuity Plan prioritizes and guides decisions when emergencies occur. Any event that makes it impossible for employees to work in their regular facility could result in the activation of the Continuity Plan.

Activity: COOP in Action

Consider the following real-world scenario and then reflect on the questions below. Click the left and right arrows to move through the scenario.

How would you have handled this event?

How did having a Continuity Plan prepare this university library for the winter weather event?

What different communication channels were used to inform, activate, and deploy staff?


What Should a Continuity Plan Include?

There isn’t a standard requirement for the extent of your Continuity Plan. It most likely depends on the size of your library resources, number of staff, and likelihood of occurring emergencies.

FEMA recommends the following areas be included in your Continuity Plan:

  1. Identification of mission essential functions
  2. Human capital / order of succession
  3. Continuity communications
  4. Continuity facilities / reconstitution
  5. Essential records management
  6. Tests, training, and exercises
  7. Devolution of control and direction

Let’s examine these areas to see how you can include them in your Continuity Plan.


Example Continuity Plan & Template

As you go through the training, you will see an example one-page Continuity Plan that includes the various FEMA recommended areas. You can download the full Continuity Plan example here:

One-Page Continuity Plan Example [PDF 261 KB]

Activity: One-Page Continuity Plan Template

Download the following template and fill in your Continuity Plan as you move through the training.

One-Page Continuity Plan Template [PDF 195 KB]


Key Points

In this section, we covered the following main points:

  • Continuity of operations (COOP) planning is an effort to ensure that an organization's mission essential functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies.
  • A Continuity Plan is the written version of your COOP effort and is recommended to include various components.