Library industry unites for disaster recovery

Article courtesy of Thorpe-Bowker's Australian Library News, written by Susie Kennewell

Copyright 2009 Thorpe-Bowker, www.booksellerandpublisher.com.au

The library industry has united to appoint a disaster recovery support officer to coordinate its response to disasters such as floods and bushfires.

Jane Grace, currently Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service outreach manager, will take up the position of acting ALIA disaster recovery project manager immediately to ensure that appropriate support is provided to bushfire families and wider communities as soon as possible.

Grace, who will also be working with Queensland colleagues on requirements for their flood affected areas said in an ALIA issued press release that ‘she was very pleased to be able to take up this interim position to coordinate immediate support and future models and information tools to support communities to get back on track.’

‘People are often well-meaning, but getting the needs and requirements right for the people on the ground is our aim. Libraries really are providing an amazing service in these difficult times and making a difference in people’s lives,’ she added.

Representatives from the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Public Libraries Victoria Network, the State Library of Victoria, school libraries and school library associations, public libraries in the bushfire region, the Victorian Government and the book industry met at the State Library of Victoria last Friday so they could create a united assistance to disaster-affected areas.

The meeting, attended by more than 25 people agreed to call on all Australian libraries and library organisations to support and contribute towards the position of ALIA Disaster Recovery Project manager.

ALIA president Derek Whitehead said ALIA organised the meeting because so many people in libraries and the book industry wanted to provide relevant support for bushfire victims ‘and coordination of this swell of support from within the national Library Association was seen as the most effective response we could make.’

Whitehead said a key point was that ‘library staff are generous, but we are also practical, and want to make sure that donations and support from our industry are coordinated and distributed at the right time and to meet real needs. We also want to work with the book industry to get a more coordinated effort going,’ he added.

‘It is also hoped that any lessons learnt from the new position, which will focus on Victorian bushfire relief, will help libraries learn lessons which can be applied in the future,’ Whitehead explained.

Public Libraries Network Victoria president John Murrell concurred. ‘The library industry has always been a supportive and collaborative one—especially in times of hardship and this ALIA position will enable our industry and profession to develop models for future coordinated support from Public Libraries Network Victoria and many public libraries services,’ he said.

Calls for applicants for the ongoing position of ALIA Disaster Recovery Project manager will be conducted in the coming weeks with more information available at www.alia.org.au/employment.

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