Libraries Help Communities Respond to Disasters
Librarians become informal first responders in a crisis.
Community support is vital in times of crisis and hardship. Libraries are often primary sources of trusted information and accessible shelter during community disasters such as storms and fires. In many communities, librarians are deputized to step in as first responders. Here’s how libraries help communities respond when time is of the essence.
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During times of crisis, librarians often become informal first responders. Library services like temporary housing, free office space, and accessible information are in demand during a disaster. Many librarians are contractually required to help their communities during times of crisis. Disaster response can include everyday situations such wifi access or day shelter for community members, as well as making their buildings and resources available to first responders, relief workers, reporters, and essential personnel.
Libraries based in hurricane-prone areas have plans in place for disaster response as soon as a hurricane hits. For small rural communities, libraries are sometimes the sole source of emergency shelter for community members. During hurricane season, libraries can provide temporary housing and direct patrons to other disaster relief organizations. Recognizing the library’s potential, Florida State University approved a grant to focus on better disaster preparedness for rural libraries in Florida.
Libraries often work closely with local governments to get information to the community. For example, Bay County in Florida and Brazoria county in Texas provide advanced disaster response resources via library communications channels. Libraries provide administrative support to city operations during times of crisis.