Public libraries | Advocacy | Disaster preparednessby Grace Morris | August 30, 2017
|AP Photo/Cliff Owen|
After Superstorm Sandy, for example, the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey and Connecticut’s New Canaan Library gave the public somewhere to charge devices, contact loved ones or even just watch movies. Other New Jersey libraries went further: The Roxbury Public Library opened early and closed late. South Orange’s library became its primary evacuation center.
Libraries don’t just pitch in following natural disasters. In August 2014, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library became a safe space amid the unrest that followed the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. After local schools started the school year two weeks behind schedule, leaving students in the lurch, the library even hosted informal classes for hundreds of students.
As millions of people in cities, suburbs and towns are reeling from Hurricane Harvey, nearby public libraries will soon play a critical role in creating a sense of normalcy for all ages – but especially for kids and teens. To help more public libraries emulate these examples with their young patrons, I teamed up with three graduate students to create a youth services toolkit to help librarians pitch in during emergencies. It will soon be available in a digital format at the Library of Michigan’s Youth Library Services website.