Libraries: an Information Haven During Dire Times

Hurricane Sandy was far more destructive than many of us in the tri-state area ever expected. Our office is one of many located below 39th Street that has been without power since Monday, and is still in the dark right now. (We apologize if you have been trying to call the office with no luck!) If you were affected by this storm, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and did not suffer much loss.

With millions of people without power and public transit creeping back into service at a snail-like pace, it seems much of the metropolitan NYC area has come to a screeching halt. Our personal and professional lives are so connected, we may not realize how dependent we are on power until we’re without it. For instance, Twitter has been an invaluable resource for me this week–following local news stations for updates and reaching out to friends up and down the coast with just a few key strokes. But when Internet access is gone and cell phone service is limited or non-existent, a lot of people are left in the dark (literally and figuratively).

When your nearby coffee shop is without power, or a local WiFi hot spot is without service, where else can you go? Where do you go if you need to charge your phone, laptop, iPad, or just get online to learn about what the heck is going on?

Your local library.

Ailing from cabin fever, I trekked out to my local library yesterday, where I also work as a part-time reference librarian. The roads were bad, but not impassable. I pulled into its long driveway and was amazed at how busy it was. We serve a relatively small community, and our parking lot can accommodate around 40-50 cars. Every spot was taken. People were parking in “NO PARKING” zones, others were driving back down the lengthy entrance to find a spot on the next road. It was the place to be! Inside, it was busy… but not chaotic. People were using every outlet available to charge their various devices, making (quiet) phone calls, and picking up books. I had never seen it so packed.

As I wrote on Twitter yesterday, during difficult times like these, people really see the value in libraries. Assuming your local library has a backup generator and is without property damage, you will have a place to seek shelter, charge devices on which we are all so dependent (and need), get in contact with loved ones, and find out vital information on recovery efforts. For free. We’ve extended our weekend hours to better accommodate our community, given that many of our patrons will be without power for upwards of 7-10 days.

I’m not the only person on the EasyBib team who has utilized the invaluable resources of a local library during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. They really have been a saving grace during this crazy time as a way for people to access information.

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib. She weathered the storm by reading, knitting and watching more episodes of LOST than she could count. You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.


One Comment

  1. Twitter Tool
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink | Reply

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