We usually think of California when we think earthquakes in the U.S., but one of the most significant earthquakes to strike in North America actually happened in the New Madrid Seismic Zone two hundred years ago. Check out this site http://www.newmadrid2011.org/ to see information about the “Earthquake Tour,” commemorating the bicentennial of the New Madrid quake in 1811. The tour begins tomorrow (Feb. 4, 2011) and continues on through this year with sessions in Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and the other states adjacent to the New Madrid fault. Be sure to explore the “Quick Links” section, especially the wonderful “Great Central U.S. Shakeout” site at http://shakeout.org/centralus/. The Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) site at http://www.cusec.org/ is also a rich resource for increasing awareness and knowledge about earthquakes and for advice about how to be prepared and stay safe in an earthquake.
Following is a message to the Disaster Outreach Librarians listserv from Cindy Love about what is available from NLM for help with meeting some of the needs in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti. (See the link in the right column under Core Resources to subscribe to this listserv.)
I’m sure we’re all distressed by the tremendous damage to Haiti and the Haitian people caused by yesterday’s earthquake. Please post news and information to this site about the use of disaster health information and potential or actual roles of libraries, librarians, and info professionals in the earthquake’s aftermath but try not to duplicate what is widely available from CNN and other major news sources.
NLM has an Earthquake topic page on MedlinePlus in English, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/earthquakes.html, and in Spanish, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spanish/earthquakes.html, which you may find useful for general background information or for explaining earthquakes to children.
If there’s a need in the days ahead for patient education materials, MedlinePlus has “Health Information in Haitian Creole (Kreyol),” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/languages/haitiancreole.html, and in French, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/languages/french.html. Information in multiple languages is also available from the Refugee Health Information Network, http://rhin.org. There are also many materials at NLM related to disaster recovery and long-term medical and mental health needs, but we’ll save those for another day.
Cash is the best donation for an event like this. With cash, relief organizations can acquire exactly what communities need. The White House is suggesting donations to the Red Cross, http://american.redcross.org, with additional donation guidance from the Center for International Disaster Information, http://www.cidi.org/incident/haiti-10a/.
For those curious about the NLM Disaster Information Management Research Center role in an event like this, the Center does not have an emergency response role unless requested by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Operations Center. We are available to assist librarians providing information services in their institutions as their hospital, university, military unit, etc. responds to the earthquake. For example, if a librarian needs assistance compiling medical information for a response team deploying to Haiti, we can help. To request assistance, send me an email or post to this list.
Submitted by Cindy Love
Disaster Information Management Research Center Specialized Information Services Division National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD 20892-5467 firstname.lastname@example.org “
Susan Curzon, Dean of the Oviatt Library at California State University, Northridge, talks about the earthquake that affected the academic library in January 1994.
|Interview date:||June 27th, 2007|
(1.) What happened in your community (i.e., what was the disaster/emergency)?
|A 6.7 earthquake struck. The center was six miles from campus. Our Library was badly damaged. The Library had been built in two stages (1973 and 1991). The newer part had to be completely torn down and rebuilt. The older part had to have asbestos removal and a great deal of repair. During the six years between the earthquake and full returning to the building, we provided services partly out of the older part of the building, partly out of trailers, and partly out of plastic domes with concrete bases (Sprung Structures). The collection survived but rescue work was necessary because of rain and debris damage. It was very hard going for a long time first to find all of our personnel, rescue the collection, restore what services we could, set up temporary buildings, work on our new building, and document, document for FEMA. Some of our staff was also in very difficult circumstances with loss of their homes or considerable damage.
It is difficult to describe the unceasing labor that was necessary of so many but especially of someone like me as the dean of the library — my shoulder was to the wheel for years — the amount of effort, strategy, and work night and day is indescribable. I am sure it took years off my life.
(2.) How did the library respond? How did the librarian respond? Were there non-traditional (unusual) roles that the librarian performed?
|We responded very well although it was a hard go. First, we had to figure out our new “landscape” and knew that nothing would be the same. Initially, a small group of us were standing in an open, muddy field in the rain. Most of the staff had to stay home for the first two weeks because there was nowhere for them to be on so dangerous a campus (hazmat conditions, asbestos, loose pillars, glass and debris everywhere, buildings unstable.)
I had a two pronged approach — first try to provide library service in any way that we could (because our President determined that we would start the semester on time no matter what) and then focus on restoring the building — the latter was very challenging because of the damage. The former very challenging because we had no library. The students and faculty voted for the library to be the number one building restored on campus. It really is impossible to run a university without a library.
(3.) How has the library (or the services provided) changed as a result of these events?
|Well, at that time, libraries used technology but not on the scale of today. However, we really took a leap forward in the first year because we decided since everything had radically changed to just go ahead and make the changes we intended to anyway in our strategic plan. There was no point in going back. I am just glad we had a strategic plan we could implement.
I think the changes would have come in time anyway. However, most of our librarians and staff now were not here during the earthquake so the corporate memory of the event is slowly eroding. This was one reason why I wrote the Library Journal article so that somewhere our experience was recorded and with the urgency and voice of yesterday.
(4.) What, in your opinion, are the roles for libraries (and librarians) in disaster planning, response and recovery efforts?
|Needless to say, I am not naive about disasters. The truth is you don’t know what the disaster will be, what the scale will be, what the impact will be, or even who will survive. You can do the best you can with having plans, having key people know the plans, having emergency training and emergency supplies but for the rest, we just have to survive on our wits and abilities. It does help to have a strong team going in though; the personality, courage and attitude of the individual were the most important factors – especially courage and a positive attitude.
I think in looking back that we do need to recognize post-traumatic stress more – it is far more powerful than people think. I think the campus started back too early; people should have been given time to get their homes and families in order. I do agree with the importance of starting that semester because people were terrified they would also lose their jobs. It was some months before we needed all of our staff, so they went to serve in any area they could, most especially in the Information Trailer (unfortunately with the name and number, “Trailer 666”). People were so happy to hear a live voice and someone who could actually help them.
|(1.) This shows structural damage to one of the steel support beams that supported the West Wing of the Oviatt Library. The severity of damage shown was typical throughout the Oviatt’s structure.
|(2.) & (3.) This shows the effects of the earthquake on the inside of the Oviatt Library. Books, furniture, etc… were thrown and scattered everywhere.|
|(4.) This photo shows the debris that fell from the Oviatt near the front entrance and portico.|
|(5.) Photo 5 shows earthquake damage to the rear side of the Oviatt Library.|
|(6.) After the earthquake, temporary tents were set up at the North end of the campus. Here meetings, communications, planning, first aid, security, etc. were coordinated as the campus began to recover and plan for the new semester.|
|(7.) The earthquake took quite an emotional toll on the members of the campus community. Here 2 people console each other up at the tent area during the first few days after the earthquake.|
|(8.) This photo depicts one of the many trailers that were set up after the earthquake on campus. They were used as temporary classrooms, office and meeting space, and storage.|