Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Strengthening community resilience efforts in disasters: Exploring the roles of public libraries

Christine Hagar, PhD


Public libraries “now respond to a wide range of

ongoing and emerging needs,”1 which include helping

communities cope with the unexpected—such as

disruptive events, disasters, and emergencies. In their

evolving and multiple roles, public libraries can play a

critical part in building the resilience that could help

individuals, families, and the whole community recover

from disasters more rapidly. As disasters are often local

events, local organizations such as public libraries are

critical in responding to them. In this editorial, I argue

that as community and information hubs,2 the nation's

public libraries, of which there are more than 16,000,

are well situated to engage in strengthening community

resilience efforts in disasters.

In Spring 2015, a national survey


disasters, public libraries, community resilience

Full Text:



American Library Association: The State of America's Libraries. 2014. Available at Accessed June 16, 2014.

Bishop BW, Veil SR: Public libraries as post-crisis information hubs. Public Libr Q. 2013; 32(1): 33-45.

Crowley B: Lifecycle librarianship. Libr J. April 1, 2008. Available at Accessed May 30, 2014.

UK Cabinet Office: Resilience in society: Infrastructure, communities and businesses how networks and individuals can support the country's emergency planning, response and recovery, and keep systems and services running. Available at Accessed May 8, 2014.

Norris FH, Stevens SP, Pfefferbaum B, et al.: Community resilience as a metaphor, theory, set of capacities, and strategy for disaster readiness. Am J Community Psychol. 2008; 41(1-2): 127-150.

Bertot JC, McDermott A, Lincoln R, et al.: 2011-2012 Public Library Funding and Technology Access Survey: Survey Findings and Report. College Park, MD: Information Policy and Access Center, University of Maryland College Park, 2012.

Vinjamuri D: Why public libraries matter: And how they can do more. Forbes. Available at Accessed June 6, 2014.

Oldenburg R: The Great Good Place. New York: Marlowe & Co, 1999.

Brobst JL, Mandel LH, McClure CR: Public libraries and crisis management: Roles for public libraries in hurricane/disaster preparedness and response. In Hagar C (ed.): Crisis Information Management: Communication and Technologies. Oxford, UK: Chandos, 2012: 155-174.

Malizia M, Hamilton R, Littrell D, et al.: Connecting public libraries with community emergency responders. Public Libr. 2012; 51(3): 32-36.

Zach L, McKnight M: Innovative services improvised during disasters: Evidence-based education modules to prepare students and practitioners for shifts in community information needs. J Educ Libr Inf Sci. 2010; 51(2): 76-85.

Illescas C: Aurora has FEMA Disaster Recovery Center open at main library. The Denver Post. Available at Accessed June 24, 2014.

Queens Library Staff Members: The library as lifeline: Getting past Superstorm Sandy. Available at Accessed May 2, 2014.

Skinner RE: “Nor any drop to drink”: New Orleans libraries in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Public Libr Q. 2007; 25 (3-4): 179-187.

Robert T: Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 93-288 as amended). Available at; 9523.3 Provision of Temporary Relocation Facilities. Available at Accessed February 11, 2015.

Wilson D, Yowell S: Become agents of community resilience. Inf Outlook. 2013; 17(4): 16-22.

Johnson CA: How do public libraries create social capital?. An analysis of interactions between library staff and patrons. Libr Inf Sci Res. 2012; 34(1): 52-62.

Veil SR, Bradley WB: Opportunities and challenges for public libraries to enhance community resilience. Risk Anal. 2014; 34(4): 721-734.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Crisis response and disaster resilience 2030: Forging strategic action in an age of uncertainty. Available at Accessed May 28, 2014.

Obrist B, Pfeiffer C, Henley R: Multi-layered social resilience: A new approach in mitigation research. Prog Dev Stud. 2010; 10(4): 283-293.

Grace D, Sen B: Community resilience and the role of the public library. Libr Trends. 2013; 61(3): 513-541.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Journal of Emergency Management