The Power of Libraries to Reduce Disaster Impact and Speed Recovery

In CE101, Health and Disaster: Understanding the International Context, John C. Scott, President and Patricia Bittner, Coordinator, Disaster Risk Management, Center for Public Service Communications in Arlington, VA, presented an overview of organizations, initiatives, and resources available to respond to, and more importantly to prepare for and reduce the negative impact of disasters wherever they might occur.  John commented on the power of libraries as local support networks: “talk about ubiquity, libraries are everywhere!”
What Librarians Can Do Now and Following a Disaster
Become a Disaster Information Specialist
At Your Library, Institution, and in Your Local Community
  • Provide Reliable Information!
    • Miseleading information is one of the biggest problems responders encounter when working to support disaster recovery.
    • When you hear about a disaster event, use your information powers to spread the word about reliable places to donate funds, and for sources to get further information.
    • Food and clothing are unlikely to help – money is often the most efficient way to contribute to relief efforts – provide your community with information about trusted organizations for contributing funds.
  • Disaster Support Centers: As local institutions, libraries have great potential as disaster support centers: a place to go for information and programs to prepare for disasters ahead of time, and a place to get connected to resources following a disaster.
  • Disaster Preparedness Outreach: set up an area in your library with information and resources on disaster preparedness tailored to potential risks in your region.  This will help community members build familiarity with things they can do individually and as a community to prepare for potential disasters, which can reduce their impact if they happen, and they will also build a connection with the library as a place to find support in connecting to resources if a disaster should happen. 
  • Safe Hospitals Program
  • Making Cities Resilient Program
Important Disaster Resources
Selected resources for getting an overview of current best practices and tools in responding to or preparing in advance for disasters to reduce their impact:
Additional Resources
Statistics (“best source”!)
Multilingual Health Information

  • Refugee Health Information network – health information in different languages –