Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We don't like Ike: Librarians & disaster communication

Of course my heart goes out to Texas at this time of recovery; many colleagues and former classmates are in Houston & Galveston, and my mentor is the director of the Houston program for my alma mater. Ironically, I strongly associate floods with Texas since a storm flooded our Seattle house 12 days before my graduation last December that I and my family still flew out for. I could not have made it through that time without knowing a fair number of Texans were supporting me in spirit, and it is likewise that I stand alongside them now. It is humbling to know the same coliseum I graduated in was (and possibly still is) used as a hurricane evacuation shelter for Ike.

It is with a touch of Texan pride that I want to highlight a disaster resources strategy employed by Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library's website:

Focus on the essential core electronic collection

Include information on how people can get regional help (the bottom link is Go Local Texas Gulf Coast)

Communicate status updates as you are able

Due to Hurricane Ike, the HAM-TMC Library and the Offices of the NN/LM SCR will be closed until Thursday, September 18. We have made access to our electronic resources available on this site via a co-located server. This page will allow access to the library's core resources only!. These resources include the library's e-journals collection, the library's database collection and the library's catalog.

Promoting the 211 community helpline (and/or Go Local) cannot be emphasized enough as seen during Hurricane Ike according to the Houston Chronicle:

The statewide 211 network — staffed by operators elsewhere in the state — reported receiving thousands of calls for help.

More than 15,500 people called on Saturday alone, and 11,000 more had called by 5:30 p.m. Sunday, said Beth Wick, director of the Texas Information and Referral Network.

The 211 call centers in Houston, Beaumont and Jasper were down, but Wick said the calls rolled over to centers elsewhere.

People wanted to know about the weather — without electricity, many were unable to monitor local media reports — as well as where to go for help. Some were stranded in their homes and wanted to request rescue, she said.

The network alerted rescue personnel in those cases, and tried to offer what other information they could.

Want more information on how we as librarians and information specialists can help with disaster information outreach for our communities? Per the MARquee,

A new listserv, DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB, is now available as a discussion forum for librarians, information specialists and others interested in disaster information outreach to their communities and responding to information needs for all-hazards preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery... You can sign up for the list and view the archives at https://list.nih.gov/archives/disastr-outreach-lib.html.
Yes, another listserv, and this one requires moderator approval but that's what good filter, label and archive capacities in Gmail are for, right?

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