Blogger Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee

Helping Libraries Affected by Natural Disasters

Orange Beach Public Library’s back lawn pre-Hurricane Sally

When my small coastal town of Orange Beach, Alabama was hit by Hurricane Sally in September, we were all a little surprised by the magnitude. Surely after everything 2020 has thrown us, we won’t get a hurricane too?! Luckily, our library suffered little damage and we were able to open back up quickly with the help of generators (we didn’t have power for several days).

Dealing with a hurricane got me thinking: what can other communities do to help libraries that have been affected by natural disasters? This year alone we have seen wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and earthquakes. How can libraries help their communities and help libraries recover from natural disasters?

The first stop is the American Red Cross. They have the disaster relief infrastructure that allows for quick and easy assistance. Donating time and money can go a long way to help those affected.

ALA has resources through #LibrariesRespond that can help libraries affected by natural disasters in any way toward recovery. You can give directly to the ALA Disaster Relief fund or reach out for help if your library has been affected by a natural disaster.

An important thing to remember when looking for ways to help libraries affected by natural disasters is that many libraries may not have a physical space for a long time. Giving money could be a lot more helpful than donating materials. If you are looking to help a library, contact them before making any donations. They may have specific needs you can address that can go a long way to help them get back on their feet. 

This blog addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: V. Outreach and Advocacy

Cassie Chenoweth, Children’s Librarian at Orange Beach Public Library in Orange Beach, Alabama, is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at

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