Larra Clark
ALA Media Relations Manager
For Immediate Release
September 13, 2005

U.S. libraries connect hurricane evacuees with information, resources

(CHICAGO) As Americans nationwide have rallied to assist those afflicted by Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing floods, U.S. library staff members have opened their doors, extended their hours and reached out to local shelters to connect people with vital resources and information.

"Libraries can be a true life line to connect people with resources and services - particularly if they are new to a community and unsure where to start in finding the information they need and want," said ALA President Michael Gorman. "Every library offers knowledgeable and trained staff who can help locate the specific resources you need - to help you find work, financial assistance, or a good book to share with your children or to give access to the Internet."

Listed below are several examples, among many, of stories collected by American Libraries staff and compiled online at

Louisiana libraries have greatly extended their hours to accommodate evacuees needing to use computers to file FEMA applications, unemployment and search for loved ones. One caller to National Public Radio singled out Lafayette Public Library for praise.

The Memphis (Tenn.) Public Library designated a bank of computers for hurricane evacuees to file for disaster relief and is providing information about local food banks, shelters, health resources, and other local services.

Houston Public Library and Harris County Public Library (HCPL) have worked together to meet the needs of evacuees.
Staff members at one HCPL branch report that 75 percent of their computer users were evacuees. Library staff members have installed shelves and furniture in a room for a temporary on-site library to be stocked with donated books at the George R. Brown Convention Center and also are developing a schedule of staff and volunteers to provide story times and children's programs in shelters.
In addition to outreach to shelters, the library has created Web pages gathering information together on services available:

"Public libraries have made a tremendous difference to the evacuees," said HCPL children's librarian Stephanie Borgman. "By far the greatest numbers are being seen in branch libraries where people have flocked for information and referral as well as computer access."

Many libraries across the region and the country are offering free nonresident library cards that allow library users to check out library materials and gain access to online resources.
The Fayetteville (Ark.) Public Library reports that they are donating collections of popular materials to area shelters and preparing to offer preschool story times, if needed.
The library also is working with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce to provide lists of employers who are hiring and to give out relocation packets. The Dallas Public Library bookmobile is making weekly stops to the city's Reunion Arena, and library staff members are providing craft programs for children and flyers listing library services and a walking map from the shelter to the Central Library.

Libraries also provide information for people in the immediate area and for those far away who wish to know the current situation and find reliable relief agencies.
Check your local library for more information.

Library staff also can help families find books about overcoming disaster, stories of survival, and dealing with tragedy.
Here is a list from the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association:


Libraries and archivists will be working to preserve and maintain historical documents.
Texas A&M University, for instance, is offering temporary "housing" for libraries that need to move and secure collections and records.
The Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) is developing a list of preservation experts around the region who can provide on-site support.

For more information on affected libraries and how to donate, please visit www.ala.org/katrina.