Libraries: Essential in Disaster

Listening to KPCC this morning and I caught this segment about libraries. It's part of their summer-long investigation into the role of libraries in public life.

Of course, libraries are essential in my everyday life as wannabe academic + social hacker and I realize their value as social service agencies, but in areas struck by natural disaster, its apparent that they become necessary to an even larger population for basic restoration of social life.

Across the country, in places like Louisiana and Oklahoma, libraries have served as crucial hubs for information and help in the aftermath of hurricanes and tornadoes. And federal emergency planners have noticed. "The Federal Emergency Management Agency classified libraries as an essential service — like one of the things that would get early funding so that communities could recover," says Jessamyn West a librarian in Vermont and a moderator of the popular blog, Metafilter.

"People are finding in the wake of the natural disasters we've seen — lots and lots of flooding, hurricanes, storms, tornadoes — that getting the library up and running with Internet connectivity or air conditioning or clean bathrooms or a place that you can plug in your phone really has benefit to a community that's in a recovery situation," she adds.

A few days earlier, NPR quoted Carl Sagan:

We are the only species on the planet, so far as we know, to have invented a communal memory stored neither in our genes nor in our brains. The warehouse of this memory is called the library. 
The quote about library being a "warehouse of memory" reminds a bit about the communal tree of the Na'vi;  the difference is that they seem to care and nurture theirs.

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