Librarians Will Save Us All

Senior Airman Kristofor Pohl, 325th Maintenance Squadron munitions inspector journeyman, volunteers time to read to children July 8 at the Tyndall Base Library during the Read to the Rhythm program. Read to the Rhythm is a program targeted to develop verbal and reading skills of children sponsored by the 325th Force Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ty-Rico Lea/Released)

It is not a secret to those of us in the profession that libraries are amazing and wonderful places. But it is always pretty cool when other people (muggles?) notice how awesome we are! This is an article from, by Ellen McGirt with her discussion of the realization of all the great things libraries do to help communities in times of disaster.

Does your library have a disaster plan? Are you making plans to work with your community members – whoever they are? If not, or if  it has been a while since you last updated it, we can help you!

“Years ago, when I wrote for our sister publication, MONEY, I appeared on CNN to talk about how to rebuild your identity if every piece of your identification was lost and your community was in turmoil. It was after Hurricane Katrina, and people were scrambling to get in touch with banks, government agencies, and insurance providers, offering any proof of self they could.

It was advice I would go on to repeat during every storm, fire and landslide season after that: Get yourself to a public library. In a time before apps and consumer-friendly financial websites (things that plenty of people still don’t have ready access to, by the way) librarians were always there to help with everything from connecting people with the right forms to get their bills paid and claims processed, to finding essential health and legal services in their zip codes. Then, they’d give your traumatized kid a book to help them calm down and sort out their feelings. They’ve nailed the safe space thing.

That was the first time I fully grasped how nimble and responsive modern librarians had become in meeting the urgent needs of the communities they serve. With training, tools, and extraordinary dedication, they’re stepping courageously into breaches, both structural and emotional, created by all sorts of natural and human-made disasters. Hurricane Sandy and Ferguson are two recent examples, but that barely scratches the surface. Their role in modern emergency management systems is a growing field of study, shaped largely by their own efforts to do more, always with fewer resources.

But this recent story from The Philadelphia Inquirer has deepened my already profound respect for the work librarians are doing.

Columnist Mike Newall went to a library in the city’s Kensington neighborhood to check out an unusual tip: The staff there had been trained to administer Narcan, the lifesaving antidote used for heroin overdoses. Philadelphia is attracting an increasing number of “drug tourists” from all around the country, people who are drawn to the unusually high quality of the heroin in the city. This particular library sits on a hill above Philly’s own “Needle Park,” and is bearing witness to a terrible epidemic.”

(Read the rest of this article here!)