Libraries Reach out after Hurricane Ike

Article excerpt

Just two weeks after New Orleans evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav (AL, Oct., p. 29), Hurricane Ike's Category 2 force slammed across the Louisiana and southeast Texas coasts after pummeling the Caribbean. Ike left 140 people dead and caused billions of dollars in wind and water damage, and lengthy power outages that optimized the growth of mold in humid homes, businesses, and libraries.

One of the hardest-hit libraries in Texas was Galveston's Rosenberg Library and Museum, the public library for the community where Ike made landfall early on the morning of September 13. With large sections of the city in ruins and a communication grid slowly being rebuilt, the library community first learned of the Rosenberg Library's severe damage from the September 18 Galveston County Daily News, which reported that Director John Augelli measured muddy water peaking at 75 inches on the first floor of the facility.

"Most [Texas libraries] outside of Galveston escaped with minimal damage," wrote Rice University Library Director Sara Lowman September 22 on the Society of South-west Archivists' Ike-update website. Library colleagues also kept in touch by blogging on the Texas Library Association website. Additionally, both organizations are accepting donations to assist libraries and repositories with Ike recovery.

Texas libraries that were able to reopen as soon as Ike had left their area found themselves flooded with people seeking everything from FEMA application assistance to disaster respite through a good read in an air-conditioned building.

Houston Public Library offered child-care services to the families of municipal employees so city workers could report for duty, HPL Manager of Public Relations Sandra Fernandez told American Libraries.

The Nacogdoches Public Library offered service to evacuees that may well exceed what any library has done to date: It closed its doors to the public for more than a week in order to house some 250 displaced persons inside the building, which Director Anne Barker told AL is shared with the city's recreation department. …