5.1 Libraries and Librarians Assisting Communities with Disaster Preparedness Planning

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 10:30 AM
Room 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Frederick Stoss, State Univ. of New York, Buffalo, NY

We are living in a greenhouse gas constrained world. There is growing evidence that human activities are causing changes to Earth’s climate system. Hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tornadoes, droughts, and wildfires—are headline-grabbing natural disasters resulting in harm to lives or property and disrupting normal patterns of living. The recent footage form the devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Sandy, Rita, and Katrina leaves us with indelible images of the consequences of severe weather events for which greater climate change enhancements are attributed. The images and evidence of the severity of damages and loss of life begs several questions. Is your community prepared for such disasters? Is your library involved with local and regional leaders and personnel in making preparations? Human nature maintains a perception that “disasters will not happen to me.” However, reality stipulates asking fundamental questions: “How and what do I prepare…” “What steps must I take…” “What resources must I have…” “To where do I turn for help… that allows me, my family, and my community to survive until help arrives?” This presentation answers those questions by describing how librarians can increase public awareness of the disaster cycle and ensure preparation and continuity plans, and increase opportunities changing that “disaster will not happen to me” mind set. This presentation will look at their roles libraries can play in community-based disaster prepared planning before, during, and after such disasters and implement plans for preparedness, safety and rescue, recovery, and eventually restoration. Librarians can or must use their skills, expertise, facilities, and collections leading to the development of community-based disaster preparedness plans, and serve as focal points for community awareness and action by: distribution of information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other Federal agencies and departments, state, and local emergency response agencies; host lecture by local first responders and emergency managers, exhibit disaster-preparedness-kits, create real and virtual bulletin boards and kiosks, serve as a drop-off point, highlight pertinent resources in their collections, and just be a place of calm and order during extremely stress-filled times.
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