Everyone knows that libraries are centers for learning. But after a disaster, libraries often take on an even more crucial role, providing dependable centers of communication and safety for the community in the aftermath of a storm.
The digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean, has administrative offices located at FIU. Program Director Miguel Asencio knew that many dLOC institutions were located right in Irma’s path, and even during the storm, kept trying to communicate with as many partners as possible.
After Irma passed, FIU Libraries Dean Anne Prestamo reached out to the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world. With more than 56,000 members, ALA is dedicated to the development and promotion of library and information services. While based in the United States, ALA helps libraries around the world, a mindset that dovetails nicely with the FIU belief that community is never limited by geography.
Asencio, Prestamo and Michael Dowling, director of ALA’s International Relations Office, discussed the best way to provide Irma relief. When hurricanes hit, ALA state local chapters often lead the response effort, as with the Texas Library Association after Hurricane Harvey. Here, a different plan was needed. FIU had already begun opening lines of communication and gathering status reports and updates, so ALA would take in donations to help the many libraries in the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma, using information reported by FIU to determine how to best employ the money raised.
Asencio views this as a perfect partnership.
“ALA has the expertise, and we already have connections in place,” he says, “so we’re collaborating with each other and with the communities directly.”
This collaboration has spread through FIU, with the Division of Information…