News coverage and reports from state libraries offered little information about damage to public and academic libraries in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Atlantic Coast five miles southwest of Atlantic City, New Jersey, on the evening of October 29. Many public libraries, including the New York Public Library, remained closed on October 31. As of mid-day, many coastal areas of New Jersey and New York remained without power, preventing damage assessments and the operation of pumps.
The Penns Grove–Carneys Point (N.J.) Public Library was under water on October 30, according to the South Jersey Times. The Milton (Del.) Public Library sustained flooding damage to its carpet and all items on the floor, the October 31 Lewes Cape Gazette reported. An unconfirmed report from a staff member at the Queens Library in New York City suggests that three branches on the Rockaway peninsula of Long Island were flooded.
In many other areas, public libraries served as community centers, providing residents without power at home a convenient place to find a Wi-Fi hub, internet access, an outlet for recharging their phones, and a well-lit, warm place to hang out. Greenburgh (N.Y.) Public Library Director Eugenie Contrata said in the October 30 Greenburgh Daily Voice that Tuesday was the busiest that the library had ever been since it opened in 2008. Assistant Director John Sexton said his duties had primarily been to look for more electrical outlets for patrons to use. The Princeton (N.J.) Public Library was also pressing all of its outlets into service, according to the library’s Facebook page.
Disaster resources for affected libraries are available on sites maintained by:
American Libraries will have further reports on libraries and Hurricane Sandy in the days to come.