On Tuesday afternoon, 16 January 2018, at the first meeting held at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, within the tour of libraries devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria, ALA President Elect Loida García-Febo presented the efforts being made by ALA to support libraries in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the whole Caribbean.
At the meeting, hosted by REFORMA, Puerto Rico Chapter, presided by Elizabeth Borges, representatives of academic, special, school and public libraries, and friends of libraries participated presenting their experiences with the Maria natural disaster and identified their particular needs. Teresa Tobin, REFORMA President (the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos), and representatives of the Graduate School of Information Sciences and Technologies of the University of Puerto Rico, ACURIL (Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries) and FEMA also attended the event. Suggestions for diverse actions were identified, including the development of a Puerto Rico National Policy on Natural Disasters Preparedness and Relief for libraries, archives and museums.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the American Library Association (ALA) is supporting library relief efforts in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and the recent earthquake in Mexico by means of its Disaster Relief Fund. Through its Disaster Relief Fund the ALA has raised more than $60,000 to help support earthquake and hurricane recovery efforts.
In addition to its fundraising efforts, the American Library Association (ALA) has partnered with REFORMA on an Adopt a Library Program to match damaged or destroyed libraries in the region in order to assist in their recovery. The program includes assisting through fundraising; donating books and other resources such as supplies and equipment; and providing advice, volunteers, etc.
García-Febo, born and raised in Puerto Rico, is a graduate of the Graduate School of Information Sciences and Technologies, at the University of Puerto Rico. She spent a significant portion of her library career there, as a school librarian at Berwind Elementary School, a special librarian at Centro de Información del Programa de Asistencia Tecnológica de Puerto Rico and an academic librarian at the University of Puerto Rico. Her family still resides in Puerto Rico and continues to deal with lack of water, power and spotty Internet access.
The tour locations include:
Jan. 16, 2018 2 p.m. – University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, Anfiteatro A-211, Natural Sciences Faculty, Amphitheater A-211.
Jan. 17, 2018 2 p.m. – University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus Library, Avenida Jose E. Aguiar Aramburu, Carretera 908 Km 1.2, Humacao.
Jan. 18, 2018 10 a.m. – University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus Library, Industrial Minillas 170, Carr. 174, Bayamón.
Jan. 19, 2018 12 p.m. – Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, 2250 Boulevard Luis A. Ferre Aguayo, Ponce.
The ALA also offers a list of resources for dealing with natural disasters at Libraries Respond.
For more information on ALA’s disaster relief efforts, contact the Chapter Relations Office: Michael Dowling at (312) 280-3200 or Don Wood at (312) 280-2429. To help international libraries, please contact the International Relations Office at (312) 280-3201.