Helping United States Libraries After Disasters

American Library Association Resources | Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) | Let Us Know How We Can Help | 
Library of Congress Resources | Smithsonian Resources | Institute of Museum and Library Services | Other Resources | Bibliography

ALA Library Disaster Relief

The American Library Association has a long history of assisting U.S. libraries after disasters. These efforts are coordinated through the ALA Chapter Relations Office. Currently ALA is taking in monetary donations and providing grants to help libraries in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that are still trying to recover and rebuild from the hurricanes of 2017.

The largest effort was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2005) where ALA raised and distributed $500,000 to help rebuild libraries across the Gulf Region. ALA works closely with its state and regional Chapters to highlight their disaster relief efforts, helping to raise funds nationally for libraries damaged by hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and North Carolina, fires in California, floods in Connecticut and West Virginia the past few years.

ALA is partner of the National Heritage Task Force (HENTF) coordinated by Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and the Smithsonian Institution. HENTF’s mission is to protect cultural heritage in our nation’s states, tribes, territories, and local communities from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies.

ALA also helps support recovery in other countries. Efforts have included assistance after earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and typhoons in Indonesia, Haiti, Japan, Chile, and the Philippines. In total, $100,000 was distributed to libraries in these nations from library supporters in the United States.

Assistance and Relief after Hurricane Dorian

ALA is currently assisting several libraries in the Bahamas that were damaged by Hurricane Dorian. There are reports of water damage, leaks and loss of supplies and materials in the Marsh Harbour Public Library, Abaco; Benjamin Laing Library; Pelican Point; Grand Bahama, Bahamas, community libraries were affected in Abaco and Grand Bahama and there has been reportage of complete devastation of most school libraries. Children's books and tablets/laptops, where possible would be useful as the libraries suffer much loss to their collection. Press Release from The Ministry of Education National Library and Information Services provides full detail on the status of libraries post-Hurricane Dorian: Read it here.

Damaged Library in Abaco

Photos of libraries in Abaco and Grand Bahama that were affected by the storm.


Let Us Know How We Can Help

If you think the American Library Association can help libraries affected by natural disasters (e.g., earthquake, tornado, fire, flood, hurricane) in any way toward recovery and relief, or if you have suggestions for emergency management resources and disaster preparedness, please contact the Chapter Relations Office: Michael Dowling at 312-280-3200 or Mariel Colbert at 312-280-2429. (Updated November 13, 2018)


American Library Association Resources | Responding to Disasters (LC, Smithsonian, Other) | Bibliography | How to Help International Libraries | For Legislative and Other Supportive Actions |


American Library Association Resources

ALA LibGuide on Library Disaster Preparedness and Response from the ALA Library.
Disasters strike every area of the country, and disasters do not spare libraries. Usually there is little or no warning, and the best defense is a plan for effective response. This LibGuide offers resources for libraries of all sizes and types. It contains information on organizations that can provide disaster assistance; disaster recovery resources available online; and a bibliography of print resources.

Beyond Words the Dollar General school library relief fund
Dollar General, in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA), the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the National Education Association (NEA), is sponsoring a school library disaster relief fund for public school libraries in the states served by Dollar General. The fund will provide grants to public schools whose school library program has been affected by a disaster. Grants are to replace or supplement books, media and/or library equipment in the school library setting.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)


Emergency Situations including Hurricanes

Library of Congress Resources

Library of Congress Emergency Management, includes:

Smithsonian Resources

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Hurricane Recovery Resources for Museums and Libraries

Other Resources

The Preservation Services department of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) provides free preservation advice to institutions and individuals worldwide. The Center provides Preservation Leaflets with information on a wide variety of preservation topics and links to additional resources, such as Preservation Assessment and Planning, Protection from Loss: Water and Fire Damage, Biological Agents, Theft, and Vandalism, Emergency Management Bibliography, Cleaning Books and Shelves, Care of Photographs, Repairing Paper Artifacts, Choosing and Working with a Conservator, and more.

DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB Listserv is a discussion forum for librarians, information specialists, and other professionals interested in disaster health information outreach to their communities. As a participant in this listserv, you can stay informed about current disaster-related resources, connect to colleagues in the field, engage in information exchange and learn about new ideas, trends, training opportunities, and conferences in the area of disaster health information.

For a list of the news sources scanned for weekly news updates sent on this listserv, visit Disaster Information News Sources.


Library as Safe Haven: Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery; A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians by Deborah D. Halsted, Shari C. Clifton, and Daniel T. Wilson. Item Number: 978-1-55570-913-6

How to Help International Libraries

For Legislative and Other Supportive Actions

For legislative and other supportive actions, see Save Libraries in Your State.