IMLS Libraries and Disasters

This IMLS project examines the ways in which rural public libraries in Texas and Florida help communities during and after natural disasters and crises. Our research seeks to contribute to a better understanding of disaster response, the ways in which information technologies are used in this context, and the resilience of rural public libraries. As a collaborative project, this researchis spearheaded by Dr. Sharon Strover at the Technology and Information Policy Institute at UT Austin, and by Dr. Marcia Mardis at the School of Information at Florida State University. 

I can assert that this partnership will be of great benefit to our libraries. Coping with dislocation, housing loss, and possibly job losses, communities turn to libraries for information and communication technologies and resources which become central to coordination purposes, social support, and pragmatic resource monitoring.

Dana Braccia

Executive Director, Texas Library Association

The research team will speak with library staff as well as community stakeholders in affected areas in Florida and Texas. The research aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the crucial role that public libraries play in providing infrastructure to citizens in the face of natural catastrophes. We are particularly interested both in generating theoretical as well as practical knowledge that addresses questions such as:
  • How do small and rural libraries respond to disaster events,and particularly, how do they interact with their community members?
  • How do libraries use information and communication technologies (ICTs) during and after disaster events to interact with other organizations and institutions also assisting the community?
  • What institutional practices contribute to libraries’ resilience during and after disasters even as they contribute to their communities?
 

The Research

This research emphasizes the new challenges accompanying a digital information and resource environment in which displaced community members turn to libraries for assistance with information needs on top of other, perhaps more immediate material needs. Coping with dislocation, housing loss, and possibly job losses, communities turn to libraries for information and communication technologies and resources which become central to coordination purposes, social support, and pragmatic resource monitoring.

Intended Outcome

One outcome will be a template for developing strategic and enhanced services within stressed communities. The team will offer recommendations that can assist libraries in preparing for the next set of stresses that reach them, whether they are natural disasters or other types of crises.

What’s New

Project Details:
Skills: