GOOD

Books. Internet. Life-Saving Shelter? Libraries, You've Done It Again.

Harvey and Irma showed us how much we need public libraries, especially in an emergency.

U.S. public libraries often transform into shelters during emergencies.

After Superstorm Sandy, for example, the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey and the New Canaan Library in Connecticut gave the public somewhere to charge devices, contact loved ones, or even just watch movies. Other New Jersey libraries went further: The Roxbury Public Library opened early and closed late, and South Orange’s library became its primary evacuation center.


Libraries don’t just pitch in following natural disasters. In August 2014, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library became a safe space amid the unrest that followed the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. And when local schools started the school year two weeks behind schedule, leaving students in the lurch, the library even hosted informal classes for hundreds of students.

As millions of people in cities, suburbs, and towns are reeling from Hurricane Harvey, nearby public libraries will soon play a critical role in creating a sense of normalcy for all ages — but especially for kids and teens. To help more public libraries emulate these examples with their young patrons, I teamed up with three graduate students to create a youth services toolkit to help librarians pitch in during emergencies. It will soon be available in a digital format at the Library of Michigan’s Youth Library Services website.

Caring for kids

In some states, libraries are partnering with first responders and emergency personnel to care for adults during crises. But many public libraries have not focused on the care of children — even though children can experience benign neglect in times of crisis.

That’s why the National Child Traumatic Stress Network recommends that parents openly share information, patiently answer questions, and reassure children that they’re safe during and after natural disasters.

Libraries can help parents and caregivers with these tasks. They can provide a safe space, room to play and study, and loads of information. This can be handy when libraries also serve as cooling or warming centers when it’s too hot or cold to be outside.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]Libraries can help parents and caregivers provide a safe space, room to play and study, and loads of information.[/quote]

Mobilization for librarians

As part of our research for the toolkit, we surveyed youth services librarians across the country to learn about their emergency preparation. Our survey provided a glimpse into youth services disaster planning, including the information these respondents would want to see in a toolkit.

The survey showed that while some of these libraries had experienced disasters in their community before, 25 out of the 37 respondents had no preparatory plans for dealing with disasters, such as adapting their programs or collaborating with community partners.

Through this survey, we also identified three libraries that have dealt with varying degrees of crises in their communities, which we used as case studies in the guide. For example, Lauren Hough, a youth services librarian at the Preston Royal Library (a branch of the Dallas Public Library), implemented the Storytime Underground’s Social Justice Storytime Framework to openly address the deadly conflict between protesters and police officers in July 2016. She reports that the community response has been astoundingly positive.

Our toolkit also includes tips for one of our profession’s most basic duties: building, maintaining, and promoting a library’s collection of books and other resources — especially for kids and teens. Amid natural disasters, libraries can display items such as picture books that help kids cope with their emotions, positive or negative. “Tough Guys Have Feelings Too” by Keith Negley is a great example. It reminds us that male wrestlers and astronauts — like dads — have and express feelings.

Libraries without collections that address disasters and other kinds of crises should consider adding books and other media on preparing for and coping with disasters, appropriate for all ages.

Our toolkit also explains that librarians can help during emergencies by adjusting regularly scheduled children’s programs. Storytime themes can change to suit the new situation. For instance, librarians can set aside plans to talk about gardening and instead read books about overcoming fear. One good option: “Franklin in the Dark” by Paulette Bourgeois. The turtle protagonist, who is scared of the dark in his own shell, meets several other animals — each with their own fears.

Unscheduled activities that demand little or no library staff interaction, such as having young children color preprinted pages with crayons or encouraging kids of any age to draw, can also help young people relax.

Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash.

Community connections

Well before disasters strike, libraries can prepare for them by forging partnerships with other pillars of the community, including nonprofits.

For example, celebrations to mark the end of a summer reading program are ideal opportunities to bring firefighters, police officers, and other first responders into contact with families. Those interactions can lay the groundwork for smoother collaboration when it matters most.

Libraries can provide entertainment and, more importantly, information about free resources: shelters, food banks, and emergency procedures. By creating collaborative relationships before a time of need, libraries can serve their communities better when a crisis comes.

The ConversationWe hope our toolkit will help libraries collaborate with community groups, adapt their programs during emergencies, and maintain disaster-related collections — the basic steps required to respond to crises like Hurricane Harvey.

Education
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading