How public libraries can help: bushfire recovery

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has compiled information to support public libraries in their response to the ongoing bushfire crisis.

The ALIA team has been monitoring the situation over several weeks, reporting that libraries have been used as evacuation centres, as refuges for those avoiding smoke, as community hubs where people can access information, and as places families can gain respite.

Library staff in affected communities have stepped up to help their communities when natural disasters strike, showing compassion and dedication, often while facing challenging situations in their own homes.

The ALIA website includes a statement in response to the bushfire crisis and resources to support public libraries during the recovery period.
For example, this presentation has further information on how to assist bushfire affected areas.

Other ideas of how public libraries can support their communities:
This list has been compiled by Public Libraries Victoria

  1. Let the community know they can use the library as a place to gather, gain free access to the internet and get some time out – consider longer opening hours.
  2. Set up a meeting room so that kids can watch movies and play together.
  3. Act as a collection or information point for donations (financial and/or in-kind) – provide a ‘Book Valet’ service (personalised reading recommendations) for those who donate to recovery efforts.
  4. Support programs and seminars that give people a reason to visit the library and learn skills that will support their recovery.
  5. Encourage the community to work together and support charitable activities (e.g. sewing groups). Provide patterns, classes and workshops for the recovery needs of injured wildlife.
  6. Allow staff to take leave so they can volunteer in their community and/or support libraries in disaster affected communities.
  7. Support affected community members who are trying to navigate government websites.
  8. Automatically renew all items on loan (with the exception of holds).
  9. Forgive the fines of people who have been directly impacted by the disaster.
  10. Curate a list of books and other resources about bushfires for children, youth and adults to facilitate discussion and help with recovery (bibliotherapy). Create blog posts of how to talk with children about bushfires, resilience and trauma.
  11. Support and train staff to enable them to support their community.
    If you fear your library is at risk of, you can find more information about disaster preparation and planning on the ALIA website.

The ALIA team will continue to monitor the situation and libraries which have been affected by the bushfires will be contacted by ALIA representatives when the immediate danger is past. Public library staff are encouraged to contact ALIA CEO Sue McKerracher for advice on how ALIA may be able to support.

For more information visit: Bush Fire Recovery