Colleagues Rally to Aid Libraries on Coast

By Lissau, Russell | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 20, 2005 | Go to article overview

Colleagues Rally to Aid Libraries on Coast


Lissau, Russell, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Russell Lissau Daily Herald Staff Writer

Like countless homes and businesses, many libraries on the nation's Gulf Coast were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Some suffered severe structural damage and lost entire collections - sometimes tens of thousands of items. Others were flooded and are closed indefinitely. Some received minimal damage and have reopened.

But the staffs at these libraries are not on their own. Help is coming from colleagues throughout the country, including Illinois.

The Illinois Library Association, a statewide advocacy group, has created a disaster relief fund to benefit libraries damaged by the storm, and the Chicago-based American Library Association is facilitating the donation of money and materials to libraries in the afflicted area through an "Adopt a Library" program.

Contributing to the relief effort makes sense for libraries, which by nature are service organizations, said American Library Association President Michael Gorman.

"That's what we exist to do - to help," he said.

The flooding in New Orleans and elsewhere is "possibly the worst thing that can happen to a library," Gorman said.

Regional damage estimates are not available because in many cases, employees have been unable to survey the destruction firsthand, Gorman said. The damage to some collections may be irreparable, he said.

"It's almost impossible to reconstitute a library once it's destroyed," Gorman explained. …

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