Here, there and everywhere: Disasters and public libraries

FLAHERTY, Mary Grace (2016) Here, there and everywhere: Disasters and public libraries. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 103 - Public Libraries with Library Services to Multicultural Populations and Columbus Metropolitan Library.

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Language: English (Original)
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Here, there and everywhere: Disasters and public libraries

In communities throughout the world, public libraries are familiar anchor institutions. Besides offering equal access to wide varieties of resources, services and programs, libraries provide safe spaces, and serve as havens, an oasis of calm for anyone who arrives at their doors. In all types of settings, library staff are becoming more involved in disaster planning and disaster management. This is particularly apparent in the public library arena, where even the facility itself may become an important component of disaster response and relief activities. From natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, floods and hurricanes to those that are human-made, including civil and social unrest, public libraries are often at the forefront in terms of providing support and some semblance of stability to communities. This support can take many forms, such as providing a central community hub, with information and telecommunications access or temporary shelter and/or school classrooms, meeting space for first responders and relief efforts, and as a dispensary for all sorts of supplies. Perhaps most importantly, public libraries are in a position to provide a beacon of hope for normalcy during troubled times.

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