IntroductionThe objective of this report is to present a risk register for the branch library facilities and mobile services of the Glasgow Library. The particular subjects for which this risk register is developed are 36 branch libraries (not including the main Mitchell Library), the main location and eight branches of the Sandyford Library, for which responsibility is shared with the NHS, and the delivery services program of library materials to residents of care homes and other sheltered housing. (Glasgow City Council, 2009)This report is organised as follows: First, an explanation of what defines a risk and how risks are assessed on the basis of their likelihood of occurring and impact on the library organisation is given.
Second, a detailed listing of twenty potential risks to the Glasgow Library’s branch and mobile services is given, with the risks ranked from highest to lowest. This section of the report constitutes one of two parts of a formal risk register, with the second being a summary table of the ranked risks for easy reference and monitoring. (Secretariat, U. of Cambridge, 2008) The summary table is presented in the conclusion of the report. Defining & Identifying RisksThe definition of what constitutes a risk is almost always contextual, but always includes the elements of uncertainty and impact.
(Gibb, 2006: 30) Although it is not necessarily always true, risk and impact in the connotation of risk management and this report is conventionally negative; they are things to be avoided if possible, and otherwise anticipated and mitigated. As a generalisation, a risk can be defined as some event or circumstance not part of the normal activity of the organisation that causes a loss of some kind.
What constitutes not normal and loss are the contextual parts of the definition, and will mean different things to different organisations. Since the definition of a risk is contextual to the organisation or activity, in order to identify potential risks it is helpful to consider broad categories that represent sources of risks, and then to list as many risks as can be conceived under their appropriate categories. Sources of risks can be divided into natural and artificial causes. Natural causes can be further divided into organic and inorganic causes, and artificial causes can be divided into intentional and unintentional causes.
(Gibb, 2006: 32-33) Once the brainstorming activity of listing all possible risks is completed, some of them are likely to be easily discounted as either being patently ridiculous, so improbable as to not warrant further consideration, or so far beyond the organisation’s ability to anticipate or control that further attention would be pointless. For example, the Sun’s exhausting of its fuel and exploding in a supernova, which astronomers assure us will happen someday in the very distant future, is technically a risk that would impact the Library of Glasgow – assuming the Library is still in existence – but there is not much point in trying to develop a mitigation or recovery plan for a risk that would result in the entire planet being vaporised.
Once the practically impossible risks are eliminated, those that remain can be subjected to the process of assessment described in the following section.