Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Returning to a Neglected Feature...

Some of you may recall that last year I began an occasional feature on libraries that have sustained damage or are serving communities that have been damaged by natural disasters.

My entries included a long entry on the Cedar Rapids Public Library. The Cedar Rapids Public Library is continuing its long recovery process from the largest public library disaster in American history. There were also numerous other libraries affected by last year's flooding in the Midwest. I wanted to share with you some information about a couple of others.

I contacted by email the Director of the Keck Memorial Library in Wapello, IA, about what the children's writing community might be able to do to help. From the reply (which was sent to me last summer - yes, I'm that behind in posting this):
Our library was very fortunate not to have any damage to the building due to flooding. However, one of the communities that our library serves, Oakville, was completely under water. Many of its residents fled to Wapello to live with relatives or find temporary housing. Some of the displaced families visited the library with their kids because it was something familiar for them at a time when their whole world was being upset. A lot of the families came to the library to use computers, find flood information, check out materials and find things to entertain the kids. Our children books were heavily used. Most of the families did not have time to gather their own books from home when they had to evacuate.

One thing parents have looked for are children’s books on subjects such as flooding, having to leave your home, finding a new home, changes, and being angry.

Oakville contracted for library services with our library. The contract was due July 1. Our library board waived their contract fee for the year so we are working on a shortened budget.

I am not sure we exactly qualify for what you had in mind, but I am sure the kids would enjoy seeing some new books. If nothing else, maybe the children authors you reach might think about the kids dealing with not only losing their homes, but maybe their town, and write a wonderful book to bring a smile back.

Thank you so much for your concern.

The Director of the Schreiner Memorial Library of Lancaster and Potosi, WI, shared this information with me (also last summer):
Thanks for your interest. Our Potosi Branch Library was flooded from beneath the floor, and we were able to rescue books and computers with a very few exceptions. The books lost (a box full - fewer than 20) were mostly children’s. The damage was structural – to flooring and walls. We had to empty the library while significant renovation took place. We are now back at full strength after being closed for almost two months. Donations are always welcome, of course, and we prefer cash so that we can make our own selections. On the other hand, if an author would donate an autographed copy of his or her book it would be a very big deal for our little library and we would be happy to promote it.

Both emails reminded me of the significance and importance of libraries in hard times, as well as the importance of books in times of disaster and need. I hope that we all, in whatever way we can, remember to show our libraries -- be they the ones in our own communities, or libraries elsewhere -- our support and our appreciation.

I would like to continue to periodically post information about libraries in need, so please share with me any libraries you would like to see featured.

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