Library Resilience from Coast to Coast: Lessons from Disaster Research to Engage Your Community and Empower Your Staff

When disaster strikes, it is certainly “something wicked this way comes.” Do you feel prepared to handle the crisis? With new information, learn how our research team is building a better culture of preparedness for libraries. Public libraries have long made valuable contributions toward meeting the needs of their communities. In times of crisis, librarian first responders need to provide quality, timely, and accurate information but they also often serve in many other roles including refuge and intermediary. We have been studying disasters including floods, hurricanes, and most recently, the ongoing California wildfires on the topics of emergency preparedness, communication, and health resources. We want to showcase information professionals’ leadership qualifications and competencies and their contributions before, during, and after the disasters hit the communities they serve. Hear examples from the findings that can help libraries better plan for disasters, build resiliency, develop staff leadership skills and competencies, and promote community engagement. We will offer tips for advocacy as well as highlight access and literacy deficiencies to create the resources and partnerships valuable to the community. The result will be an interactive discussion and shared resources to foster library preparedness and recovery.

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Oct 21 2023


9:00 am - 10:00 am




  • April Hobbs
    April Hobbs
    Graduate Student Outreach Librarian, University of Memphis

    April Hobbs is the Graduate Student Outreach Librarian at the University of Memphis. She is the liaison with the Graduate School and provides research support, graduate instruction, and relevant programming including the Dissertation Writer’s Retreat and its variations. She also assists students, faculty, and staff at the Reference Assistance Desk and Chat.
    April’s research interests include disaster information, consumer health information, emergency planning, and information literacy. She has been involved in research relating to disaster information and emergency planning for libraries since 2017. Prior to the University of Memphis, she served as an Adult Services Librarian and Creative Studio Coordinator at Charleston County Public Library in Charleston, South Carolina. She is an active member of several professional organizations and carries a Level 1 Certificate of Consumer Health Information from the Medical Library Association. She received her M.L.I.S. from the University of South Carolina in May 2019.

  • Denise Lyons
    Denise Lyons
    Commissioner/State Librarian, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

    Denise Lyons is the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives and State Librarian in Frankfort, Kentucky. Her background includes specialization in library administration and management, emergency preparedness, strategic planning, and family literacy. Denise is also an adjunct lecturer for the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s Library and Information Science program in the School of Education. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Director and Consultant at the South Carolina State Library for 14 years. She has a MS in Public Services Management and Nonprofit Administration from DePaul University in Chicago and a MLIS from the University of South Carolina. Denise is active in PLA, ALSC, and IFLA, including the Health and Biosciences section and Evidence for Global and Disaster Health SIG. She is also part of a research team that is studying the public library’s value to communities during and after disasters. The NNLM Region 2 just awarded the team a grant to create a website of research and resources gathered that will be accessible to all for free.

  • Feili Tu-Keefner