Massachusetts Mayor: Library Service Is Essential after Tornado

June 8, 2011

American Libraries received an email from Springfield (Mass.) Public Libraries Director Molly Fogarty June 3 about the aftermath of a tornado that devastated several neighborhoods there June 1. The storm killed several people, injured many more, and destroyed and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses. The next day, Fogarty said, Springfield City Libraries’ Central Library and nine branches provided regular service hours—with the blessing of Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.

Fogarty wrote:

On June 2, in the aftermath of the tornado that hit Springfield in the late afternoon of June 1, the Springfield City Libraries were open. Residents were encouraged to visit the library if the conditions in their neighborhoods permitted safe travel. Residents in some neighborhoods are stranded without electricity and access to the outside world.

Mayor Sarno had declared a state of emergency in the City of Springfield and all nonessential city employees were told to stay home. I consulted with the mayor’s office and it was determined that the libraries could and should provide essential services in an emergency situation, and all library employees reported to work.

Many families were left homeless by the tornado and are being housed in temporary shelters. We are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide activities, programs, and reading materials for these families.

Springfield budget analyst (John M. Burt) emailed June 3: “By the way, I did pull up outside the Forest Park branch about 6 a.m. Thursday morning to use the wireless service on my laptop. I needed to check my work email and there was no power in East Forest Park [a Springfield neighborhood].  Thank you, Springfield Public Library!”

According to the June 7 Springfield Republican, early estimates of damage to Hampden County, where Springfield is located, total $90 million based on insurance claims. Fogarty told AL that


Joseph Janes

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