by Brandon Wright Adler
In the aftermath of Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and even the current wildfires of Northern California, some of us may be wondering if there is any way that we can assist those in need. Particularly any libraries that may be required to rebuild their collections – or just rebuild in general. Further, we may be wondering what the legal community, at large, has done to assist their patrons, customers, clientele, neighbors, and friends during these devastations. While, of course, I cannot cover everything in a short blog article, I can provide highlights and some much needed information so that those who are so inclined (and able) can assist where needed. This blog post certainly points out how to assist our patrons in this time of need, but it also equally focuses on how to assist each other, fellow librarians, as we cannot excel and remain the cornerstone for access to information needs for our patrons without bettering and assisting one another.
With the high costs of accessing legal databases these days, it is always nice to see some of those companies give back to their clientele. Even more, it is wonderful to see some of those companies give back in a tremendous time of need. For example, for Florida Bar members, Fastcase is offering a full three months of complimentary service to Bar Association members impacted by Hurricane Irma. This service lasts through December 20th and can be accessed from the Florida Bar Association website (the link on “Fastcase” will take patron users to the appropriate page). In addition, CLIO is offering their cloud-based practice management platform free of charge for three months to lawyers affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Specific to libraries in the disaster recovery areas, EBSCO is offering those libraries six months of free access to their disaster relief reference materials. In particular, there are two databases that they made wholly available to public libraries in impacted states and countries: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Reference Center and Home Improvement Reference Center.
While reading a wonderful Library Journal article posted online titled, “Libraries from Puerto Rico to Florida Respond to Hurricane Irma,” I found an excellent link created by the Florida Library Association. The Florida Libraries Rebuild Network link contains a two page spreadsheet. The first page is for Florida Libraries who are in need of certain assistance and the second page is for other libraries or businesses (located anywhere in the world) who are able to provide assistance. For either page, it seems that the organization adds all of their own information along with their specific need or their specific offer. If you would like to donate money, the Florida Library Association also has a link to their Florida Libraries Disaster Relief Fund. In addition, the Texas Library Association has set up a number of ways to provide assistance to Texas libraries impacted by Hurricane Harvey, including the Texas Library Disaster Relief Fund, a Texas Library Association coloring book of which the sales go directly to help fellow librarians who benefit from the Texas Library Disaster Relief Fund, or libraries/librarians may apply for a Disaster Relief Grant. Information for all of those resources can be accessed by going to the Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief and Support for Libraries page.
The American Library Association is supporting recovery and rebuilding efforts for libraries impacted by natural disasters in Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, and Puerto Rico through their ALA Disaster Relief Fund. The link will take you to their “projects” page where you have an option of “scholarships” or “other.” Click “other” and you will see the disaster relief fund option. In partnership with the American Bar Association and FEMA, the Louisiana Civil Justice Center is the official Disaster legal Hotline for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Through this important hotline, callers impacted by the recent hurricanes can receive answers to legal questions, information on how to apply for and receive aid, and receive referrals to personal attorneys.
Unfortunately, as the wildfires still blaze in Northern California we do not yet know the final extent of the damage of this natural disaster; however, there are still ways to help those in need. Facebook has developed specific “Crisis Response Centers” for the fires. If you want to help, you can let the Crisis Response Center Network know that you want to participate and how you may be able to assist. The Crisis Response Center also allows people to start a new fundraiser or donate to an already established fund. Keep in mind, you may have to search Facebook for the specific area that you are looking to assist, as the Crisis Response Center covers disasters worldwide. Further, as with any of these disasters, if you would like to assist but are incapable of being on site, you can always visit the American Red Cross. Moreover, and sadly, animals also suffer very harshly with any natural disaster, if you would like information on assisting the animals impacted by these disasters you can reach out to the ASPCA.
Please feel free to add further information on how to assist in the comments section!