Opportunities and Challenges for Public Libraries to Enhance Community Resilience

Authors

  • Shari R. Veil,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Communication and Division of Risk Sciences, College of Communication and Information, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA
    • Address correspondence to Shari R. Veil, Department of Communication and Division of Risk Sciences, College of Communication and Information, University of Kentucky, 235 Grehan Building, Lexington, KY, USA; tel: 859-218-0468; shari.veil@uky.edu.

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Bradley Wade Bishop

    1. School of Information Sciences, College of Communication and Information, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Knoxville, TN, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

This study bridges a gap between public library and emergency management policy versus practice by examining the role of public libraries in the community resource network for disaster recovery. Specifically, this study identifies the opportunities and challenges for public libraries to fulfill their role as a FEMA-designated essential community organization and enhance community resilience. The results indicate there are several opportunities for libraries to enhance community resilience by offering technology resources and assistance; providing office, meeting, and community living room space; serving as the last redundant communication channel and a repository for community information and disaster narratives; and adapting or expanding services already offered to meet the changing needs of the community. However, libraries also face challenges in enhancing community resilience, including the temptation to overcommit library capacity and staff capability beyond the library mission and a lack of long-term disaster plans and collaboration with emergency managers and government officials. Implications for library and emergency management practice and crisis research are discussed.

Ancillary