(with apologies to Charles Dickens)

It was the worst of times… it was the best of times…

Just over three years ago, I was awakened by a phone call that no librarian wants to hear: the library’s on fire.  This wasn’t just a minor “use the fire extinguisher” fire, it was a 10-hour conflagration that left nothing uncharred.  So, definitely the worst of times.

However, when life hands you limes, you make margaritas, right?  The reality was (as it is for so many of us) that the building wasn’t really student-friendly, and the collection was a little on the old/needs to be heavily weeded side.  The fire meant that we had the opportunity to do a lot of shopping, and a lot of building.

When you have a disaster, be it flood, fire, earthquake or tornado, there are many places to look for help.  FEMA, for one (if you’re in a disaster area, not a one-off like our fire).  Public schools can apply for a Dollar General Stores grant.  If this isn’t an area-wide disaster, your friends, neighbors and the rest of the community will rally with donations (be careful: a professor retiring after a life in academia may not have the best materials for a collection focusing on young adults!).    Few of us think of disaster preparation as a part of our jobs, yet it is so necessary.  Take it from me: do not be caught unprepared.  In June 2009, I was asked to present at an ALA Pre-Conference on just this topic.  If this presentation or I can help, just let me know!

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