Thursday, June 16, 2016

Library Field Responds to Orlando Tragedy

Vigil at Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center, June 13
Photo credit: Erin Sullivan

By on June 15, 2016

In the wake of the shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on the night of June 12, which killed 49 people and injured 53 others, library administration and staff, organizations and vendors have stepped up with statements of solidarity, offers of help, and opportunities to join forces with the LGBTQ and Latino communities—the shooting occurred during Pulse’s Latin night—to mourn those killed and wounded.

Mary Anne Hodel, director and CEO of Orlando’s Orange County Library System (OCLS), posted a message on the library’s homepage, decrying the “despicable act of violence, and pointing users to a resource guide assembled by OCLS for those coping with the loss and looking for ways to support others. She  added, “Moving forward, we will be exploring other ways that OCLS can be part of the healing process. Thank you, Orlando, for being so strong and so brave. We are proud to be part of this community.”

The Orlando Public Library (OPL) branch of OCLS broadcast news on the big screens in its lobby and Library Central area, which has a stage and seating area. “We have also given staff info on how to access our Employee Assistance Program, to make sure that anybody who needs a grief counselor has access to one,” OCLS public relations administrator Erin Sullivan told LJ. Library managers are also accommodating staff members who wish to donate blood, as there is currently a five to seven hour wait at local blood banks.

OCLS has set up monetary donation opportunities through its staff association, and has donation boxes throughout library branches for nonperishable food items for the families of victims. And the library is giving in more ephemeral ways as well. OCLS will be providing the LGBTQ community with information about its EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage) database, a community-sourced obituary website created through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, so that victims’ families and friends will be able to post and access obituaries.

In addition, reported Hiawassee branch manager Ken Gibert, the OPL Reference Central department has been collecting photographs of flowers, gifts, and displays at the candlelight vigil held on the night of June 13 at Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center, to post on the Orlando Memory heritage site.

While the library has been concentrating on ways to help, it has also been on the receiving end of others’ generosity. Digital distributor OverDrive donated 50 ebooks on grief, coping with tragedy, and healing to OCLS, Gibert told LJ. ILS provider SirsiDynix has made a monetary donation.

All branches have installed banners in their windows proclaiming #OrlandoStrong, one of several hashtags for social media users to show solidarity and get updates. Read more...

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