Rebuilding Libraries After Hurricane Sandy

Update 11/8: So far, we’re up to $80 between all three libraries. I’ll keep updating totals as more people donate!

It has been a little while since I’ve gotten the chance to update here, but there are good reasons (I promise!) that I’ll be announcing to you all soon. The recent hurricane, though, was enough to knock me out of hibernation. It has been so devastating to watch the impact of the storm on communities around the East Coast, and particularly hard to see the devastation in my future home. I am absolutely in love with that area of the country and with all the people I know there, and have been trying to think of ways to really make an impact from afar. I’ve donated to the Red Cross and a few other groups, but the thing that keeps coming to mind is the success we had as a community of professionals in raising funds after the Joplin tornado.

So, this message is a plea to everyone in libraryland (and everyone who loves libraries) to show that kind of support to libraries in need. The staff are working like crazy to keep libraries open and serving as the most effective community spaces possible by providing resources, bringing in trained experts, and giving people a place to charge their phones and get out of the cold.  When the library isn’t open, library staff are going mobile to bring resources to their communities.
This is a time when our colleagues are really shining, and showing why their libraries matter to communities. I know this is something we would all do in the same position, because we love our patrons and we love our libraries, and I’m hoping we can all come together from afar and help those communities out. There is an excellent article in American Libraries Direct  that helped guide me to some resources, and I’m listing them here, along with opportunities to donate to individual libraries that have listed immediate needs on their websites. If anyone knows of other  libraries in impacted communities that are taking donations, please share them in the comments. It would be great to have our library love reach as many people as possible!

Libraries in need of assistance

Queens Library: Several libraries were damaged during the storm, and many materials were lost. These libraries are in some of the hardest-hit areas, which means their patrons need everything from FEMA assistance to outlets to charge their phones. Staff have taken bookmobiles out to bring resources to patrons and are doing some really incredible work, but they need help to rebuild their collections. Their library foundation has a donation page where you can donate using a credit card.

Brooklyn Public Library: BPL has not set up a disaster-specific donations page, but some of the branches sustained damage during Sandy, according to the BPL website. The library has a page for making donations which allows you to specify where you want to gift to go (I would recommend selecting ‘where it is most needed.’) If anyone knows of additional funding needs for BPL (or a recovery-specific funding site), please let me know.

New Jersey Libraries: The New Jersey Library Association has set up a donation page to raise funds for libraries around the state that were damaged during the storm. Like the other libraries, these folks are working hard to help communities recover, and need assistance as they begin to rebuild.

I’ve donated to each of these sites, and I hope you’ll join me today in helping out our colleagues in need. Our field is filled with passionate and awesome professionals, and I’m looking forward to seeing that in action! Once you donate, you can tweet your amount using the hashtag #sandylibraries, leave it in the comments on this post, or send me an e-mail with the amount (JuliaCSkinner at gmail dot com). I’ll update the totals as I get them in! Remember, any amount (even $5) helps–and enough small donations really add up. Thanks everyone!

Update 11/8: Reader-Suggested Sites

American Library Association site for how to help U.S. libraries after a disaster.


Joplin Library Update, and How You Can Help

UPDATE 6/29: I just heard from Jacque Gage, who reported on the overwhelming response from libraryland to their call for funds. To date, $16,020 has been raised, all of which has been given to JPL staff impacted by the tornado. Great job everyone!!

UPDATE: A trust has been established via a local bank to help with distributing funds. This makes it so all donations go through a trust rather through an individual, although they will still be distributed to staff members in need of help from Joplin Public Library. Please make checks out to “Joplin Public Library Staff Relief Fund” and specify Shelli in the message/memo portion of the check. Checks can still be sent c/o the library (see address at the bottom of the post) for distribution. Thanks again!

Hello readers,
Thanks to the Iowa Library Association listserv, I have been getting some updates on how the public library in Joplin, MO is doing following the tornado. The building is not damaged at all, but 8 staff members lost their homes completely, two others’ homes were severely damaged, and two employees were injured during the storm (but they are still alive, so that’s a relief!) Amazingly, the Joplin PL is still open and being run by the staff who are able to make it in, which I think it a testament to their dedication to serving the Joplin community. This brings me to the next point: how can the rest of us help?

I just spoke with the library’s director after receiving a listserv update from her about donations. It’s not legal for the library itself to give donations to employees, BUT Jacque, as an individual, can. So, all donations should be written out to her (details below) and sent to her, c/o the library. She will then take the money and distribute it to employees. I know this is not the first time I’ve asked readers to donate to disaster relief this year, but I feel like it’s so important that we’re all here for our fellow LIS folks. Jacque said that 5 of the 8 employees who lost their homes only work part-time, one of whom is a single mother (who had her arm broken during the storm.) These folks especially need a hand. I’ll be sending a check off this week, and would love it if other readers would consider doing the same (or at least forwarding this information to people who might be interested!) Here’s the information:

Make checks payable to: Jacque Gage

Mail checks to: 
Jacque Gage, Director
Joplin Public Library
300 S. Main Street
Joplin, MO 64801

Thanks in advance to everyone for your help!!