We often refer to libraries as “safe havens.” That is certainly what our colleagues in Texas are now providing for their communities.
While many are still assessing the damage to their own facilities, they’re reaching out to find ways to serve their customers.
As Hurricane Harvey battered Texas, two Houston libraries were used as temporary shelters for displaced residents. This week, the library system will reopen 19 of it’s 42 branches to offer customers free Wi-Fi and assistance filling out applications or FEMA forms. They’ll also provide yoga classes, family-friendly movies, books, games and crafts. Library archivists will also lend a hand, showing people how to preserve family photos, books, and memorabilia that may have been damaged in the floods.
In neighboring Harris County, library officials set up a pop-up library inside an evacuation shelter. Librarians held story time for kids, brought a 3D printer to conduct a STEM program, and even provided laptops for people to contact their loved ones. This week, Harris County has also opened nearly two dozens of its public libraries for emergency relief services.
Libraries are the centers of many communities. And in Galveston, neighbors, staff and volunteers showed up to help clear the water from the Rosenberg Library after the storm.
So many facilities have been destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Harvey. As libraries look to rebuild, the Texas Library Association has set up a Disaster Relief Fund. You can donate here.