"We're Open to Serve You During Storm Recovery"

Unless you live under the proverbial rock, you know that this week, the east coast was battered by Hurricane Sandy before the remnants of the storm moved inland to cause further havoc as far west as Wisconsin.  It was a pretty remarkable sight seeing essentially every school in the state closed for the day on Monday, and on Tuesday, many districts still opted to stay shut, but it's back to business here now.  We got extremely lucky in that Boston was spared a lot of the damage that places further south of us, namely New York and New Jersey, have had.

Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with libraries.  Well, earlier this summer, I wrote about how the libraries in Boston were opening as cooling centers on some of the hottest days of the year - a place where those without air conditioning could come, for free, and be safe and cool.  In the winter, libraries often offer the reverse service - a warm place for those in need of protection from the harsh winter elements.  But libraries serve other purposes, too: vital purposes, like linking people with information and resources, empowering them through job assistance or ESL classes.  The Queens Public Library, which has had several of its branches affected in minor ways by Sandy, explained in an email that four of its branches have been so badly affected that it will take several months for them to reopen.  Yet, highly cognizant of the role these libraries play in their communities, they are working as quickly as possible to find alternate locations so that they can continue to deliver their adult learning and job search services.  In fact, the title of the email I received from them says it all "We're Open to Serve You During the Storm Recovery."  They are to be commended for their efforts to get back in working order so that people have a place to get the news, to charge their electronics, to learn about vital federal disaster aid money, and so much more.

It's truly remarkable, and it speaks volumes about the dedication the staff of the Queens Library system (and, I'm sure, the staff of the NYPL and other library systems similarly affected).  Our libraries are vital components of our communities in ways we often neglect to think about, and we as librarians and future librarians are the ones helping to make these spaces safe, welcoming, and most of all, relevant in the lives of those we serve.  It makes me really proud to be part of this profession.

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