Sunday, September 04, 2005

What Tips for Host-City Librarians Helping Evacuees

As someone who is currently safe, well, and has a support network of family of friends, some suggestions of little things libraries can do especially if people want to help but can't do so financially.

1. Ask patrons to bring in the coupons from the Sunday paper. Many do not use these and it is free money. Have coupon parties to cut them out and organize them into categories - diapers, toothpaste, food.

2. Have blood drives. It will be needed and I remember after 9/11 the fantastic response.

3. Ask local realtors, hotel chains, chambers of commerce, DOTs to donate maps of your city. Many people who are displaced won't know their way around and not having to buy a map is one less expense.

4. Start now to have programs on conservation and recycling. This is going to be a rough winter all over this country. I remember the public service announcements I grew up with in the 70s to turn off lights, carpools, plan your errands and co-ordinate with others.

5. It's the little things. If you get wrapped plastic silverware with take-out use it or save it. Bring your own bags to the grocery store like they do in Europe or save and recycle the bags. Bags will be needed to give out donations and will be "suitcases" for many people for awhile.

6. Ask patrons to volunteer to do a storytime or to help an adult navigate the web to find info, forms, etc. Two of my son's favorite comfort books are Goodnight Moon by Brown and Goodnight Lulu by Bogan. I had to set up a free email account for my sister on Yahoo when hers was down because she had never done it before and was scared about having to pay for something when finances are so uncertain.

7. Host meetings for people to just come and talk. If possible, have a mental health professional but sometimes people just need someone to listen. Also, New Orleans is a small town in a big city. It's like the Kevin Bacon game except usually you don't even have to go to seven before you find a connection.

Alicia, Geaux Team Member, New Orleans, La.


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