Libraries of all types found ways to help their communities as they weathered Hurricane Sandy themselves. Some of the obvious solutions included:
- providing a warm and dry place to take shelter,
- distributing food and warm beverages,
- acting as distribution centers for emergency supplies,
- setting up charging stations for essential electronic devices,
- creating “tech petting zoos” to occupy children of all ages,
- supplying entertainment in the form of books, videos, audiotapes, and e-books,
- hosting additional children’s programs to occupy them while schools were closed,
- acting as “hoteling stations” to provide an office away from their workplace for displaced business people,
- providing information resources and workspace for students.
Even libraries without power found ways to serve their patrons. According to the Harborfields Public Library’s Facebook page, even though the library itself was closed, patrons were welcome to come use the “outdoor library” comprising of tables, outlets, wifi and, of course, books.
One of the more creative solutions was the Brooklyn Public Library’s bookmobile distribution of supplies to residents in Coney Island and Red Hook in Brooklyn. Their community outreach included a children’s book “The Great Storm and Flood Recovery” by the Mentor Research Institute, in both English and Spanish, to help children cope with the effect of the hurricane and its damage on their homes, families and their own lives.
A resourceful library advocate, Kathy Dempsey of Libraries Are Essential, assembled and staffed a makeshift library at one of the Medford, New Jersey local shelters. She made available a variety of material ranging from science textbooks, romance novels, poetry and children’s books to magazines and holiday gift catalogs for families who took shelter at the Chairville Elementary School in Medford. In Kathy’s words,
While this little makeshift library was not an official part of the operation… the reading material helped displaced, worried residents pass the time: libraries FTW, again!
For current status of libraries in New Jersey, check: Hurricane Sandy’s Effect on NJ Libraries
For disaster recovery assistance in New York City, check: Hurricane Sandy Recovery Information
Ways to donate funds to help New Jersey and New York libraries affected by Hurricane Sandy are found at:
Helping United States Libraries After Disasters – American Library Association
Library Disaster Relief Fund – New York Library Association
Rebuilding New Jersey’s Libraries – New Jersey Library Association
Additional media stories on how libraries were affected by Hurricane Sandy:
New York City Libraries Relatively Unscathed; New Jersey Still Taking Stock – Library Journal
Libraries Weather the Superstorm – American Libraries
We’re in this Together, Helping After Sandy – The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries
Needham Residents Without Power Invited to Charge at Library, Shower at YMCA – Needham Patch
Posts Tagged “Hurricane Sandy” – NY Public Library Tumblr
Libraries Respond to Hurricane Sandy, Offering Refuge, WiFi, and Services to Needy Communities – School Library Journal
Hurricane Sandy: Somerset County libraries open as warming, recharging and information spots – NJ.com
Brooklyn Public Library Bookmobiles Help with Hurricane Sandy Relief – Galleycat
A Little Storm Shelter Library – BoingBoing
NJ Sandy Recovery – Flickr Group
Sandy & Libraries: Photos of Libraries in the Storm’s Aftermath – School Library Journal