The American Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund provides funds to libraries in the U.S. and around the world that have been damaged or destroyed due to natural or man-made disasters.
(Select Disaster Relief Fund)
ALA works with its state chapters and state libraries when disaster strikes in the United States to gather information and to distribute funds to help libraries rebuild. And for international disasters are partner national library associations.
ALA’s previous disaster relief efforts include support after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Superstorm Sandy, Tsunami in Japan, Earthquakes in Haiti. 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.
This page will provide updates and reports on damage to libraries and distribution of funds. It will also provide information where direct donations could be made to specific libraries.
August 2023: Wildfires have destroyed houses and business throughout the island of Maui in Hawaii, including the Lahaina Public Library and King Kamehameha III Elementary School Library, which was extensively damaged by the fires. To donate to the ALA Disaster Relief Fund for Hawaii, please type "Hawaii" in the Tribute line at check out.
(Courtesy Office of the Governor)
Learn more on how to support local libraries and groups from the Hawaii Library Association.
July 2023: Libraries across the state of Vermont faced historical levels of flooding. The catastrophic flooding impacted a large portion of downtown Montpelier including damage to Kellogg-Hubbard Library. A full list of impacted libraries and resources can be found on the Vermont Department of Libraries webpage. At least 17 libraries have been reported damaged due to flooding. To donate to the ALA Disaster Relief Fund for Vermont, please type "Vermont" in the Tribute line at check out.
Book Sale Room Flooded intersection at School Street Water in basement lobby
(CREDIT: Dan Groberg, Executive Director · Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier, VT)
March 2023: The EF4 tornado that decimated Rolling Forks, MS on Saturday, March 25, severely damaged the Sharkey-Issaquena County Library. The tornado also tore of part of the roof of the Amory Municipal Library. Both libraries are need support as they work to re-establish themselves to serve their communities.
Sharkey-Issaquena County Library Amory Municipal Library
Library Disaster Relief Fund Distributions
March 2023: Palmer Public Library in Alaska faced a roof collapse requiring a temporary library location. ALA's funding supported shelving and collections replacement. ALA provided $5000
October 2022: Florida in response to Hurricaine Ian to be distributed by the Florida Library Association. ALA provided $1000.
September 2022: Letcher County Kentucky's Martha Jane Potter Elementary and West Whitesburg and Whitesburg Middle School libraries were flooded and lost collections. ALA provided $5000.
Historical Relief and Donations
ALA Donates $15K to Assist Libraries in Louisiana and New Jersey Damaged by Hurricane Ida
ALA Disaster Relief Fund sent $5,000 each to the Lafourche Parish Library (Louisiana), the St. Charles Parish Library (Louisiana) and the Caldwell Public Library (New Jersey) restore and upgrade resources and services.
St. Charles Parish Library suffered damage to a number of locations, with the West Regional Library being totally exposed as one side of the building was torn down. St. Charles will use the donation to help replace books and furnishings that were lost.
Hurricane Ida destroyed a satellite branch and severely damaged the inside of one of the main branches of the Lafourche Parish Library, which included back-up servers. As Lafourche Parish Library builds back, ALA’s donation is helping the library migrate its back-up system to the Cloud.
Flooding destroyed the Caldwell Public Library’s Children’s Room, and the library is still not habitable. The donation will help with computers and furnishings for the temporary spaces the library has set up to support the community.
Assistance to Restore Public Libraries in Haiti
ALA and its members, through the ALA Disaster Relief Fund, have provided $20,000 to the Bibliothèque Nationale d’Haïti to re-establish two of its public libraries whose locations that were damaged and made uninhabitable due to the large earthquake that struck Haiti in August. ALA’s donation will provide for temporary locations for the St. Louis du Sud Library and the Marigot Library on the Tiburon Penisula to keep their doors and services open during this critical time. Midley Joseph, staff at Bibliothèque Nationale d’Haïti, reports that preparation for the two new locations are now underway, thanks to the donation. Some of the funds are being used to repair of the roof of the Petit Goave Public Library which was newly built after the 2010 earthquake through support from ALA and libraries and donors across the United States.
Assistance and Relief after Hurricane Ida
Relief for libraries after damages from Hurricane Ida on August 29, 2021
Lousiana State Library Public Library Emergency Status Blog
This blog lists updates from each Louisiana Parish
Donations Directly to Louisiana
The State Library of Louisiana is set up to take in direct donations to help libraries in Louisiana. Click here to donate.
Check donations can also be made to a specific parish library system (please note name of parish on check)
Louisiana Library Book Festival Foundation
PO Box 2583
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Mississippi Update (September 7, 2021)
The Mississippi Library Commission connected with most public library systems across the state by September 7. Libraries in Mississippi suffered minimal damage from Hurricane Ida. Jackson/Hinds Library System reports water damage to the Eudora Welty branch and concern over its collection. A number of systems, Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library, Lamar County Library System, Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System reported roof leaks during Ida, but minimal impact, and leaks were known issues from previous storms.
New Jersey Update (September 6, 2021)
Image from damages of the Caldwell Public Library in Caldwell, NJ | Photo Source
Springfield Public Library, NJ
The library experienced flooding throughout almost the entire building and it will need to be completely closed for at least several weeks.
Thank You to Library Community Working Together To Assist in Library Relief Efforts
Kenosha Public Library Fines Go to Help Damaged Libraries
The Kenosha Public library Director, Barb Brattin, brought a request to the Library Board to approve one week of fines from all of the 4 branches and the bookmobile to be given to the ALA Disaster Relief Fund in response to the recent Hurricane damage. The week of September 25th - October 1st a total of $1,240.92 was collected in fines that week , and an additional $85.90 was donated by patrons and staff. A poster was used at all point of service locations to inform the patrons. The library also used social media to highlight the effort.
Book Review Group Donates $500
The Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group (SOYAMRG) which is made up of 40 public and private school librarians, public librarians and other professionals who work with young adults ages 12-18 voted to contribute $500.
Dickerson Memorial Library (MA) Knitting Group Contributes
The Northfield, Massachusetts library’s Thursday Night Knitting Group’s decided to give $300, half of the funds they raised at their fall Stash Bash to the Florida libraries.
50-50 Raffle Nets Funds for Disaster Relief
During the Baltimore County Public Library Staff Association’s annual Staff Day, the Association earmarked funds raised from a ‘50-50 Raffle’ for the ALA Disaster Relief Fund. The Raffle raised $202.50 to help libraries devastated by the recent hurricanes!
Neighborhood yard sale
Elissa Miller raised $515 at a neighborhood yard sale fundraiser for Puerto Rican libraries. Neighbors and friends got together to support libraries in Puerto Rico.
American Library Association
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)
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Emergency Management, includes:
- Library of Congress What To Do If Collections Get Wet (response to floods and water damage for libraries, archives, museums; includes videos in English and Spanish)
- Cuidados de colecciones
- Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (see its Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF) and Response and Recovery Resources)
- Archives and Preservation Resources Technical Information A Primer on Disaster Preparedness, Management and Response: Paper-Based Materials (1993; PDF)
Institute of Museum and Library Services
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.
- To help international libraries, please contact the American Library Association International Relations Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 3201.
- Donate to ALA's Library Relief Efforts ALA Urges Library Supporters to Help Libraries Rebuild after disasters
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
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.