New listserv for librarians interested in disaster preparedness

I’ve been on DISASTER-OUTREACH-LIB from NLM/NIH for a couple of months now, and I see some pretty good information come through. It’s not a super-active list, so it’s easy to keep track. There is a f ocus on health information, since it sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, but I’ve seen other topics covered as well.

Find more information about it and other NLM resources here.

Guatemala Book Fair declared annual event

This August article from Criticas announces the organizers’ intentions of making the Guatemala book fair an annual event. Unger writes:

Guatemala suffers from the reputation of being “El país de no lectores” (“the country without readers”), so FILGUA set as its objective “Vamos por un país de lectores” (“Let’s become a country of readers”). Still reeling from 36 years of civil war, with the by-product of ensuing gang warfare, violent crime, and femicide, Guatemala is not an easy place to build readership. FILGUA, however, has provoked understanding of the need to address issues of literacy, the promotion of reading, and the paucity of public libraries in the country, while at the same time raising the importance of eliminating value-added taxes on books.

At an event held in the National Palace of Culture, honoring the more than 80 attending writers, host Jerónimo Lancerio, the Minister of Culture and Sports and a Sakapultec Maya, was presented with a petition signed by 154, mostly rural, library directors urging increased government spending and the creation of new libraries. Immediately after the fair, a bill addressing the promotion of reading was introduced in the Guatemalan Congress. Indeed, there was a sense during FILGUA that after years of neglect, the Guatemalan government would begin addressing literacy issues, this in a country ranking second to last in spending for education in Latin America.

Good signs for the future of reading and libraries in Guatemala.

Hurricane Gustav library links

Here’s a quick roundup of library-related Hurricane Gustav links. Please add yours by commenting on this post.

Louisiana Library Status Blog

Library Director’s Blog: Lafayette (Louisiana) Public Library: Gustav Eve – August 31 – 9pm

ACRL Guest Blog Post: Loyala University Prepares for Hurricane Gustav

Gulf Coast Braces for Potential Category 3 Hurricane

LibraryThing Hurricane Gustav Thread (not quite library related, but a community of book lovers)

Lakeview area quiet… (library as pick up site)

Chinese American Librarians Association Coordinating Donations

The Chinese American Librarians Association has set up a website for donations to support earthquake recovery efforts in China.

You can also read from American Libraries a report on the status of select libraries in China after the  earthquake.

Native traditions offer valuable disaster prep advice

I heard this story on NPR a few days ago and it made me think of how libraries could have several big wins with this.  One, making connections with native american stories and storytellers could be a great way for non-native americans to enrich their understanding of their community and to start building relationships between native and non-native communities.  Two, as Crawford in this story points out, backing up advice with a story brings a point home that much more clearly.  Imagine a storytime where you teach kids disaster preparedness by telling them a story where the characters react to the disaster.

Deborah Jacobs, and Better World Books

Two big events in library/book land this week.  One, Seattle City Librarian Deborah Jacobs is leaving Seattle Public and joining Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lead the Global Libraries Initiative.  Also, Better World Books just received 2.5 million in growth capital from the Social Enterprise Expansion Fund.

Catastrophe Readiness and Response: Proactive Roles for Public Libraries

The PLA session Catastrophe Readiness and Response: Proactive Roles for Public Libraries was not as well attended on a the session on 2.0 technology I had attended that morning, which to me reveals that many librarians are not yet making the connection between their work and a community disaster preparedness plan. You could also argue that the sparse attendance was because it was late in the day.

I was late to the session, but I was able to catch the majority of the two case studies that were presented. The first presenter was from Long Island, and she explained the process her library went through to develop an online catastrophe information clearinghouse for Long Island. It was fascinating to listen to the steps they went through to develop this impressive resource. First, library staff sought out and attended as much training in disaster preparedness and emergency management as they could find. They developed partnerships with relief agencies, government organizations such as FEMA, local elected officials, the business community, local non-profits, and engaged citizens. These partnerships paid off as they were marketing the clearinghouse, developing programming to educate the community, and asking for continuing funding to broaden it’s scope to cover information from a broader region.

The second presenter was from Pasco County in southern Florida. Pasco Library employees, as city employees, serve shifts during disasters (usually hurricanes) in an information center that sets up during the disaster. It was incredible to see how well integrated the information workers of the library were in the overall information dissimination plan for the county. Links here …

The Q & A session was also fascinating as librarians from all over the country shared their own disaster stories, from the “little Katrina” in Kansas to the San Diego wildfires. They told stories about how they positioned their libraries during disasters, such as letting the firefighters use their bathrooms, letting FEMA workers use their computers, opening the community rooms up as shelters, to being part of the community disaster preparedness plan as the information center for the community. One librarian from a small rural community said that during a pandemic the residents in her community may not know the phone number of the health department, but they do know the phone number of the library. After the disaster, librarians are helping those impacted by the disaster “return to normalcy” by conducting storytimes for children affected by disasters and assistance to the community to find insurance and relief information online.

The session brought up interesting ideas about how the library’s role during disasters as the information and community center.

What can you do as a library to help your community prepare for a disaster?

  • Create a display that shows the contents of a “Go bag” along with information on how to buy or create one for the home
  • Create a website or online database of local information on shelters, evacuation routes, medical relief, pet help, and other important information to have during a disaster
  • Attend a training or get certified in emergency management
  • Create a program to teach kids and parents about what to do in a disaster
  • Create programming to educate the community about what to do during a disaster. Ideas for a program include: bring a speaker from FEMA or the Red Cross, insurance companies, create a Go Kit with families, …
  • Create a disaster plan for your library
  • Create a COOP (Continuity of Operations Plan)
  • Update monthly staff contact information on a zip drive
  • Read this Weekly Tip to find more information on how your library can prepare for a disaster