ALA and Library Relief Funds

May 25, 2011

As people continue to mourn the deaths of more than 500 people from this spring’s horrific tornados and assess the untold property damage in the South and Midwest, ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels emailed ALA’s governing Council today regarding the Association’s disaster-response protocols at home and abroad:

“It is our policy and practice to work closely with local groups rather than mounting separate efforts. In the past, we have urged members to donate to broad relief efforts, such as the Red Cross, which provide assistance to all affected by a disaster. Where libraries have been affected, we will work with the local trustees or friends group and then direct members to where they can donate. In this case, it is staff members who have been affected. This means that we will work with the local library. As soon as we have identified a local organization who can receive donations on behalf of the library staff, we will make donation information available via AL Direct—and ask that the information be shared via ALA Connect groups and our various member discussion lists. This has proven to be very effective in the past.

“As is the case with advocacy efforts, it’s very important that we work with the local library community, so as to make sure our efforts are complimentary and well directed. Once we have identified a local group that can effectively manage the donations, a text donation campaign at Annual Conference, as ALA President Roberta Stevens has suggested, would be a great way to help them.”

For example, two months after the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake in Japan that triggered a tsunami and devastated much of the country’s northeast Tohoku region, ALA is working with the Japan Library Association to raise funds for Japan’s affected libraries. ALA is continuing to accept donations through the Japan Library Relief Fund from U.S. libraries to send to the Japan Library Association, which is leading the effort to help provide services and support. There are a number of ways to raise funds for the relief effort, such as Prairie View (Tex.) A&M University Library’s recent donation of $265 from a book sale. Individuals, Friends groups, and library staff are also encouraged to make donations.

Other groups have found creative ways to donate to the cause. The 3.11 Picture Book Project, headed by children’s book editor Chieko Suemori, delivers books to children in war- or disaster-stricken countries. To date, the project has delivered over 12,000 books to children affected by the earthquake and tsunami. More details about the 3.11 Picture Book Project can be found in “Picture Books Bring Smiles to Young Earthquake Victims,” by Yukiko Sazanami, in the May 6 Tokyo Asahi Shimbun.

Click here to donate online to the Japan Library Relief Fund or download this donation form (PDF file).  ALA also continues to accept donations on behalf of library organizations in Haiti and Chile that are helping libraries rebuild after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 in those nations.