State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton was the keynote speaker at two separate conferences, in Maryland and Virginia, where she gave a presentation on disaster preparedness and recovery. Leading the State Library of Louisiana through four major hurricanes during her first three years as State Librarian, Hamilton has had plenty of hands-on experience as a leader during catastrophic disasters, specifically hurricanes.
Thus having had to become experts in the field, Hamilton and her team at the State Library of Louisiana have detailed their efforts before, during and after the four major hurricanes they worked through, into a presentation to demonstrate issues and best practices for dealing with a disaster. These efforts are currently being formalized into a plan that can be shared with the rest of the nation.
Key points include:
- Libraries become natural communications hubs after a disaster.
- Having a good communication plan that encompasses, staff, relatives of staff, library trustees, local officials, other libraries, the media and the general public is crucial.
- Business continuity takes precedence over all other emergency preparedness concerns.
In an effort to be better prepared for natural disasters, emergency preparedness officials around the nation are recognizing the role of libraries and are seeing the value of learning best practices for libraries during a disaster.
Hamilton has been able to share with the nation’s state librarians, academic library leaders and county and state emergency personnel what did work and what did not work in Louisiana in the aftermath of Louisiana’s 4 major hurricanes. The mutual goal of all involved is for libraries to be best positioned to do what they do best during a disaster and for emergency officials to be able to assist public libraries to plan for and respond to disasters.