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!!

>The Library of Tomorrow…Yesterday!

I ran across this rather lengthy quote while adding to my chapter on libraries from 1914-1916, and was so pleased by it I couldn’t wait to share it with you! It’s from the 1914 annual report, written by Iowa City Public Library’s librarian, Helen McRaith. Unfortunately my Internet was down yesterday (and most of today), so I had to contain my excitement until now:

“The modern idea of the function of a library is this—to study the literary needs of its own community and then to endeavor to meet these needs to the fullest extent, even if tradition must be violated in so doing.
The old-fashioned library was a cloistral place appealing only to the scholar, who moved silently among dust-covered tomes. The modern library possesses a different atmosphere and one more akin to that of a business office; most of the readers have the appearance of seeking information which will be of assistance in their daily problems rather than abstract knowledge.
There is a similar change in the appearance and attitude of the librarians. Formerly they seemed to look on the library as an end in itself and as a collection of interesting curiosities, they were willing to let it remain a stagnant literary pool. Now they must be alert specialists, keen to keep a stream of vital, useful knowledge flowing from the library to all parts of the community.” (Iowa City Public Library 1914 annual report, pg 1).
This reminds me so much of some of the current discussion circulating around the changing field of librarianship, even though it was written almost 100 years ago. Her writing has the same tone of excitement that I feel in my own blog and in reading the posts of other LIS bloggers, about the library as a place of expanding opportunities and of librarians as being people who are redefining the field rather than just participating in it.
There are a couple places in particular where her writing sounds like it could have been lifted out of a modern blog (and then had the language antiquated a bit, of course): there is so much concern right now about justifying the value of libraries, and a lot of that justification comes through pointing out that the library is used for practical purposes, as McRaith says, “…seeking information which will be of assistance in their daily problems rather than abstract knowledge.”

>Map of Censorship in Iowa Libraries during 1918

>I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there is a wonderful Google map that shows all the book bans and challenges in the U.S. over the last 3 years.  When I ran across this map a while back, it gave me the idea to do a similar thing with the Herbert Metcalf letters that inspired my WWI Iowa libraries project. (Metcalf was the man to whom librarians around the state sent letters indicating that they had removed items from their shelves in response to his request).
I made the map and used it for a class presentation, and just recently dug it back up while I was poking around Google. For those who are interested in Iowa or World War I history, this might be of interest to you. You can find my map at this link.

Continue reading “>Map of Censorship in Iowa Libraries during 1918”

>Highlights from Library History Seminar XII

>I just got back from an awesome conference experience at Library History Seminar XII in Madison this weekend. All of the panels were incredible, and the people there were so supportive and welcoming of me (especially as a new researcher!) I feel so excited about the whole thing that I wanted to jot down some thoughts I had about the topics, and some questions the presentations raised for me. Continue reading “>Highlights from Library History Seminar XII”