Can You Weather the Storm? by Carol DeMent

I have been thinking a lot about resiliency. Since Hurricane Michael caused wide spread damage in the Florida Panhandle last October, there has been an emphasis by civic leaders on our communities’ ability to “bounce back.” I recently read two blogs posts on libraries, librarians, and resiliency.

In “Characteristics of a Change Resilient Librarian,” [ ] Ron Aspe discusses the importance of librarians being change agents.

While this post was addressed to special librarians, I believe it applies to all library staff. Every library deals with challenges on a regular basis. “Libraries must cope with staff shortages, budget cuts, outdated technology, competition from unexpected sources, and even negative stereotypes.”

Resilient librarians look for ways to expand their relevance in their larger organizations (i.e., town, county, university, etc.). They look for ways to use their skills in new ways and with new tools. They tie their services to clear goals and objectives for their libraries. These proactive librarians look for ways to contribute to the larger organization/community and show the value of the library. They make connections with their peers in other departments and agencies.

In “Reasons to love your library: Think of them as ‘resilience centers’,” [] Amy Brunvand discusses how libraries are not only essential in times of crisis but also in creating sustainable communities.

“The reason libraries are so effective to re-ground and re-center communities in crisis is that they already serve a similar if less urgent role in more normal times, with goals for literacy, civic engagement and community resiliency, as well as collections that preserve community memory, identity, history and a sense of place.”

Following a disaster, libraries are critical as sources of information, venues for distribution of supplies, and communication centers. They often provide a place for FEMA to set up locations to assist the victims of the disaster. If the library can be reopened quickly, it restores a small piece of normalcy in the lives of people who may have nowhere else to go.

Are you and your library resilient? What do you need to do to improve your library’s ability to bounce back? Disaster planning? Training? Making connections with other agencies?

“The Road to Resilience” page of the American Psychological Association website [] has a list of ways to build resilience.  While these suggestions are designed for individuals, many of the ideas can be applied to organizations. What will you do to make sure you and your library can adapt to changes, big and small, that may come your way.

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