Feature Image Courtesy of The New York Times

Who Says Public Libraries Are Only For Reading?

As Hurricane Harvey continues to wreak havoc for those in Houston and much along the Gulf Coast, public libraries can alleviate secondary effects by providing a means of shelter and organize donation collection services to help the affected with recovery.

 

According to Texas Border Business, the McAllen Public Library is providing evacuees with access to computer labs, Wi-Fi, printing services as well as other a cozy place to recuperate and charge electronic devices. E-cards that grant computer access for up to three hours will allow users to read or listen to books, newspapers and magazines electronically.

 

Cafe

Cafe inside the MPL | Via Explore McAllen

 

“We understand that people will need Internet to stay in touch with family and friends, start insurance claims, and check e-mail,” Kate P. Horan, Library Director, said to Texas Border Business. “MPL is ready to offer our services during this critical period.”

 

There is also an open play section where families with young children can take a break and participate in educational programs such as Storytime, Kinder Kids and Lego Club.

 

Via the Monitor

Via the Monitor

 

For those wishing to donate, The McAllen Public Library is collecting food and other supplies until September 3rd.

 

Jim Darling, mayor of McAllen, expressed his gratitude towards storm relief efforts all across the city.

 

“We are proud to open our arms and most especially, our hearts to all of our family and friends in need and let them know that McAllen is here for them in their time of need. I encourage our residents to give generously: give of your time, give of your prayers and give what you can to help our fellow Texans.”

 

In fact, Hurricane Harvey hasn’t been the first disaster that prompted public libraries to provide emergency shelter. After Hurricane Sandy, both the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey and Connecticut’s New Canaan Library welcomed evacuees while they waited for the storm to subside. Other New Jersey libraries such as The Roxbury Public Library even extended its opening hours for its community.

 

Libraries can also act as safe havens during chaotic times, even if such an event is not a natural disaster. When schools pushed back the academic year by two weeks following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the Ferguson Municipal Library even provided informal classes and emotional recovery for hundreds of students.

 

With 185,149 homes damaged and millions fleeing, public libraries like the McAllen Public Library can play a sanctuary role and even expedite the recovery process. Amongst those who are affected, kids and teenagers are especially vulnerable to neglect, hence why shelter providers must be trained to attend to the younger population should they need extra care. For example, take a look at this virtual book club was formed in wake of Hurricane Harvey.

 

Feature Image Courtesy of The New York Times

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