Libraries Assist Disaster Survivors with Information Needs and Refuge but Need to Amplify Their Role and What They Offer
A Review of:
Braquet, D. M. (2010). Library experiences of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans flood survivors. LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 20(1), 1. https://www.libres-ejournal.info/528/
Objective – Describe the experiences and library usage of patrons displaced by Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Flood.
Design – A qualitative study with interview components and a questionnaire with open and closed-end questions
Setting – New Orleans, Louisiana and surrounding area
Subjects – 314 questionnaire respondents and 30 interview (24 face-to-face and 6 phone) participants with 5 individuals completing both
Methods – The study consisted of an online questionnaire with open and closed-end questions occurring concurrently with semi-structured interviews conducted over the phone and in person. Individuals were recruited via convenience sample by flyers at public locales in the New Orleans area and electronic mailing lists, forums, blogs, and news sites that catered to the New Orleans community.
Main Results – Disaster survivors use libraries for Internet access, information and technology assistance, mental relief, physical refuge, and also view them as symbols of both loss and hope. Library resources (including the physical spaces) allowed survivors to regain a sense of control by helping patrons access local information and experience pre-disaster pastimes, such as leisure reading.
Conclusion – The study provides rich description of how libraries can support people displaced by disaster, however just over half of participants did not consider the library a part of their disaster experience. Future research should examine how libraries and library workers can amplify their impact during disasters and disaster recovery, as well as partner with disaster planning and response professionals.
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