AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Challenge for Libraries as Information Managers: Hurricane Preparedness and Response

John Brobst and Lauren H. Mandel

(Submission #53)


The past decade saw heightened hurricane activity and more than $150 billion in damage in 2004 and 2005. Libraries responded by taking steps to better prepare for the information needs of the libraries and their communities arising from these emergency situations. Libraries adapted their service roles in support of their communities to manage information services tailored to emergency support and assistance to hurricane victims.

There has been no systematic effort to organize and assist libraries toward providing information services related to hurricane/disaster planning and response. This project included interviews with over 150 experienced officials and librarians throughout the Gulf Coast area. Key findings include the need for libraries: to collaborate with local agencies to build coalitions focused on disaster preparedness; to become emergency responders, prepared to offer shelter, relief, communications, and emergency services; to serve as vital links in the emergency response network, helping in key areas as communication and information centers, and as distribution centers for food, water, and supplies; and to develop into command and control points, as integrated nodes in the disaster response network.

The importance of this research effort centers upon the coordination, management, and integration of information resources that improve the library and community infrastructure related to hurricane preparedness and response. The effort identified the library’s service roles, developed strategies for libraries to better prepare to assist their communities, and investigated how libraries and other governmental agencies leverage their resources during the response and recovery period. The study has captured and actively disseminated the best practices offered by the survivors of such events via a web portal and training sessions.


[Additional materials, author bios (PDF)]  

START Conference Manager (V2.54.6)