Log in

No account? Create an account
Anyone remember this? It's what we saw on TV one day in mid-April,… - Strolling II [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ website | Jennifer's homepage ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

[Aug. 31st, 2005|12:54 pm]
[mood |anxiousanxious]

Anyone remember this? It's what we saw on TV one day in mid-April, 1997. I saw it from Bismarck (where the flooding was confined to parks along the Missouri River and the occasional basement) and thought, "It's underwater AND on fire. It's Armageddon or something." How scary for the state I lived in: one of its 3 decent-sized metropolitan areas, basically annihilated. (For additional info: http://www.draves.com/gf/gfindex.htm)

What's going on in Louisiana and environs is so much scarier. Just look at the aerial photos. There are more people involved and more geographical space underwater by several orders of magnitude, the floodwaters will be slower to recede because the area is largely at or under sea level, and the floodwaters are far more likely to be saltwater.

Perhaps more importantly, the South doesn't have money coming out of the earth like North Dakota does--oil, wheat, cattle. Far more people live at subsistence level; they have no reserves, no insurance, no contingency plans for dealing with this kind of material loss. The state isn't rich and doesn't have reserves to help people who've lost everything. (Before moving to Bismarck, I turned down a Serials Director job at a Louisiana university where they had not had money to bind magazines in fifteen years...and this was considered normal. The library was happy to just be open and to be allowed to hire for their vacancies.)

Add to this the fact that our federal government has committed the area's National Guard troops--the natural force to jump to the people's aid in a crisis like this--to an increasingly futile effort in the Middle East, and I fear this disaster is not going to be followed by the determined bounce-back efforts, the sense of hope, that prevailed in Grand Forks. Things are only going to get scarier, in a lot of different ways.

I am trying to keep myself from thinking about the libraries.

[User Picture]From: thestormcellar
2005-08-31 11:26 am (UTC)
Craziness! My ex's used to live there, so we visited there a number of times. I recognized many of the areas. HOLY CRAP! *cries*

(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dread_ex
2005-08-31 03:07 pm (UTC)
Because I'm curious, how would a library work to fix the really valuable rare books that where damanged in the flooding?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gflower
2005-09-02 02:53 pm (UTC)
ALA's current FAQ has Katrina as its number one question right now. It's at: http://www.ala.org/ala/contacts/alafaq/faq.htm

Their Hurricane Katrina News page (library/museum news in the wake of Katrina) is at: http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/hurricanekatrinanews/katrinanews.htm

I didn't cry until I read parts of that page. Somehow the line "Long Beach Public Library destroyed" got me right where it hurts.

I hope things like old, valuable manuscripts were in watertight vaults and/or evacuated. Most libraries' disaster plans (if they're any good) include who will take what where when, as in, "The Director will remove the X historical collection, call numbers Y to Z, to the ABC library or to storage in such-and-such city". Small public libraries/branches won't have as much irreplaceable stuff, but one would hope they also have plans for removing/placing up high things that can't be replaced.

Water damage in libraries is a whole area of study unto itself. I suspect in the case of Katrina there are going to be more cases of "it's not damaged, it's just all gone" than there will be of items merely being damaged. In practical terms, books that are merely wet can usually be salvaged if there is staff to oversee the process and space to air them out; libraries with excellent disaster plans have contracted for space in conservation freezers owned by various companies. (That means mostly academic libraries. Public libraries don't have the money for this.)

Over time mold is a huge concern, too, in damaged buildings and damaged books--I have seen regular books in perfectly safe, air-conditioned libraries sprout mold overnight for no good reason. Imagine if there is no power in a library building for a matter of weeks, no space to separate the materials and air them out, high humidity indoors and out, no staff to begin the effort because they are refugees in other areas. Once mold attacks a book you have to get rid of it, because it isn't usable and mold spreads. So, I think even libraries with their roofs still attached, if they have standing water or even a few leaks, will have serious problems and have to pitch a lot of their materials.

Finally, FEMA does have basic tips on salvage/conservation of valuables at: http://www.fema.gov/ehp/salvage.shtm, with a section on books/paper here. Notice their emphasis on freezing paper items. This is the state-of-the-art mold prevention response. Tough to do with no electricity...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dread_ex
2005-09-02 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the information. This is fascinating. I had heard that the Folger Shakespeare Library has a fire suppression system that if it's ever needed will lock the doors to the collection and suck all the air out of the room.

So, what do you think of the ALA lawsuit against the Justice Department in regard to the FBI seeing the records of who took out what book. Frankly, the idea that the FBI can see what somebody checks out scares the crap out of me. I say librarians rock!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)