(CHICAGO) The following statement has been issued by American Library Association (ALA) President Michael Gorman:
The American Library Association (ALA) is deeply concerned about the welfare of the people and communities along the Gulf Coast affected by Hurricane Katrina. We are saddened by the tragic loss of life and widespread damage to homes and communities.
The Chapter Relations Office, which serves as the lead unit in ALA in gathering information on disasters in the United States, already has contacted ALA chapters in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi to get information on damage to libraries in the region. We have just learned that a Louisiana Library Disaster Relief Fund has been established, and monetary donations to assist school, public, and academic library restoration efforts in Southeastern Louisiana can be sent payable to: LLA-Disaster Relief, 421 South 4th Street, Eunice, LA 70535.
American Libraries also is compiling news coverage of library impacts at http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/hurricanekatrinanews/katrinanews.htm. Since many residents, including librarians, library students, library educators and library workers, had evacuated the area and may not be able to return for a few days or weeks, it may be a while before we have a full assessment of the damage.
For individuals wishing to contribute directly to general relief efforts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a list of agencies accepting donations at its Web site, www.fema.gov, under "how to help."
While work on mitigating and monitoring the terrible human tragedy must and should take precedence, the ALA also is monitoring the situation in New Orleans as it relates to planning for the ALA Annual Conference scheduled for June 22-28, 2006. We will provide updates on affected libraries, library reconstruction efforts and the 2006 ALA Conference on the ALA home page as we receive information in the coming weeks.