Today at the school where I volunteer, I experienced my first lockdown drill. For us at the school media center it was a simple matter of shutting the blinds, turning off the lights and finding a place in the room to hide. We didn’t have a class visiting at that time, so we didn’t have to explain, soothe, or organize children. We waited for 15 minutes until our doors where checked and then after the principal announced the drill was over, we turned the lights back on, lifted the shades and went about our business. It seemed like such a superficial drill. I didn’t at all feel that I would be ready in a real emergency.
When I was a child the only emergency event we prepared for was a tornado, but whether it’s an act of nature or an act of aggression by a human being, schools have always tried to prepare their students for catastrophe. I think that the human kind is more frightening, because there are no warning signs. We can’t get advance readings from Doppler radar to tell us that an attacker is on the way, and hiding away from windows, getting down low to the ground and shutting off lights will not necessarily be something that helps in the event that an attacker got into the school.
Schools are left with having to attempt to prepare their students for an unpredictable and unknowable possibility. They must do something and something is better than nothing, but it is a sad truth that should something this horrific happen, there is no certainty that a lockdown drill will be enough to keep kids safe.
When I think of a library I think of a safe place where readers go to feel cozy and protected and have the freedom to get lost in a good book. It is an unwanted thought that this sacred place would also be a place where its readers would be in harm's way.