Community Libraries Serve as "Shelters" Following Hurricane Irene
Residents flocked to libraries following the storm.
Sept. 2, 2011
As communities through New Jersey cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, many public libraries opened Monday morning or as soon as they could open their doors to become a “port in the storm” for local residents.
Libraries across the state report more visitors than usual and others mentioned “we are seeing new faces who are not regular library visitors”.
With many homes and local business without electricity, telephone, cable and Internet connections, the town public library is packed with people young and old using library computers, library Wi Fi capability and charging up devices such as cell phones, laptops, iPads and more. Some people have even shown up to plug in electric razors or curling irons.
There are those who are trying to relieve some of the stress caused by the storm by relaxing with a magazine or book to distract them from woes at home. Library staff has responded by setting up extra tables and power strips and trying to make folks as comfortable as possible. Some libraries have put up coffee and served cookies to help residents ease their discomfort. A friendly community space, public libraries provide a warm welcome, comfortable atmosphere and a chance to chat and commiserate with neighbors.
For many who could not use public transportation to get to their place of work earlier this week or for local businesses without power or experiencing flood damage, the library Wi Fi system was a way to keep connected and continue to conduct business by using Internet connections, lighted work space, copy machines and keep plugged in.
While it has been a hectic week for libraries, reports are coming in from staff that are they “delighted to be a true community center” and love being re-discovered by those who haven’t visited a library in years.
-Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium