Posted by Beth Gallaway
Photo: Leslie Burger welcomes guests to her Blogger Bash – folks from the biblioblogosphere mingled with heroes whose libraries and lives have been devasted by Katrina.
I showed up at ALA President-Elect Leslie Burger’s hospitality suite Saturday night expecting to rub elbows with fellow bloggers and thank Burger for her open acceptance of the biblioblogosphere. There was lots of elbow rubbing going on that night and Burger greeted each visitor as s/he walked in the door.
Invitations to the reception were extended to Gulf Coast libraries, and it was Burger’s hope, since she is a shrewd and savvy woman who recognizes that blogging is an important communications tool, that bringing these two groups together might help extend the message that the devestating effects of Hurricane Katrina have not diminished much.
We heard heartwrenching stories from public, academic and school libraries about loss of staff, defected to other parts of the country; losses of millions of dollars worth of books and computers; the struggle to maintain some basic library services to citizens still living in tents; the plea for “NO MORE BOOKS!!! We need MONEY!”
We also heard heartwarming stories, some told to the crowd, others exchanged one on one, about children who raised a few hundred dollars with lemonade stands, of libraries in other parts of the country who did local fundraising to send to specifically designated sister libraries in New Orleans; an academic library that saw an opportunity to promote remote and electronic services; a school than managed to graduate its class in December. The evening was a much deserved tribute to and celebration of the workers who returned and are every day heroes for simply doing their jobs in such terrible conditions. I’m not convinced I would have done the same.
I asked where the donation bucket was – how could you not want to give something after watching the emotion play out on someone’s face as such losses are described? – but I can’t help feeling that although I agree libraries are essential – ESSENTIAL! – perhaps permanent shelter, clean drinking water, and public health & safety are higher priorities than new books and computers. What do the rest of you think?
Donate to the New Orleans Rebuild Project at http://www.nutrias.org/~nopl/foundation/katrinafoundationdonation.htm.