Thinking about natural disasters and libraries…

For our Rapid Response 2 assignment, my group decided to look up information on how libraries are helping communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. This assignment made me curious about how my library at home helps the community during a natural disaster. Granted, I’m from Minnesota and we definitely don’t have hurricanes. But snow storms and tornadoes happen quite regularly. I’ve never paid much attention in the past on how my library’s presence in disasters, but with my new librarian lens, I decided to take a look.

I use Hennepin County libraries, so I started doing a bit of research. On May 22, 2011 a tornado swept through the Minneapolis, and causing much damage in north Minneapolis. There was extensive damage with trees falling, damage to power lines, business buildings, and homes. One person was killed, and eighteen others were reported to be injured (

I found an article from the Star Tribune from May 15, 2012 saying that a dance troupe called Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater joined with two Hennepin County libraries to team up and gather stories of people who were affected by the tornado. The article stated that  the stories are most likely to be published into a book and the troupe will use the stories as inspiration for dances.

It’s great to find another example of libraries helping their community when struck by natural disaster, but this example really stood out to me because it is a unique activity.The article said that three neighborhood libraries opened the day after the tornado struck to help those affected by the damage. But I find it interesting that a year after the tornado, this dance troupe and two Hennepin County libraries are collecting stories from those affected.  At the time of the article, some buildings still were not rennovated.

I think this shows a great way of how librarians can help community members share their stories, get involved with local creative groups like the dance troupe, and provide an opportunity for remembrance of what happened to the community. Many people probably were frustrated that buildings were still not restored, and this way, they get to share their thoughts and have an outlet for their stories. Not only can patrons come to the library and share their stories, the library becomes a place for patrons to have a voice. Also, because the libraries have teamed up with the dance troupe, the dancers get to bring these stories to life through dance. Without the library, the dancers could not be inspired by the people affected by the tornado, and the community members’ stories would have a harder time being heard, and reach an large audience.

Article for the dance troupe and library story collection:


One thought on “Thinking about natural disasters and libraries…

  1. Thanks for the post, Lisa. In my research for the same project, I’ve stumbled upon how libraries have helped during all sorts of disasters. It’s uplifting.
    Ok, so I have to admit something now. Your new theme is AMAZING! Love the sea, love your words, love it all!

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