the long tail of relief

I’m glad to hear that organizations are getting their act together and jumping in to do what Geaux Library Recovery set out to do. Now they’re trying to decide what to do with the site:

One idea is to use it to apply Michael McGrorty’s endangered libraries idea. Maybe a clearinghouse of information for libraries in crisis–any sort of crisis. ALA chose not to officially support a resolution on endangered libraries, for several reasons. My thought is that this would be a source for libraries that wanted to identify themselves as endangered. Mind you, it’s still all very much in the brainstorm stage. Since we have this space, we’d like to do something with it. Your ideas are appreciated. And, if shutting down is the best idea, we’ll honor that. –rochelle

Perhaps such a project will have a similar effect on the powers that be and ALA will get serious about libraries that are endangered by budget cuts. Well, one can dream.

I’ve been fascinated over the past few weeks to see not just the outpouring of aid to people and institutions on the Gulf Coast but also to see the varieties that aid has taken. You know about Geaux Library Recovery, and about ALA’s Adopt-a-Library program. You’ve probably also seen Radical Reference’s compilation of resources for Socially Responsible Katrina Relief. But there’s more.

The Neighborhood Story Project, which I wrote about a few weeks back, is looking for volunteers to “help get their local independent bookstore to take a box of these incredible books to sell as a way to raise money for relief and recovery, and as a way to get out the amazing stories of the people and neighborhoods of New Orleans.” Contact jamieschweser [at] for more information.

On September 8, I got an e-mail from Poets & Writers with a list (since added to) of how writers can help.

And then a few days later, someone from my old writing program forwarded this e-mail [thanks, pasta!] from Bret Lott, editor of The Southern Review at LSU.

Common Ground is running an incredible clinic (and then some) in Algiers, and Naomi Archer is writing up a storm of Real Reports of Katrina Relief from the ground.

And I could go on.

While I am as appalled as the next person by the level of disorganization and incompetence in the official response to the disasters of the last month, I’m simultaneously cheered by the many people–and the many kinds of people–who have come out to help. It pleases me to know that there are as many kinds of help as there are people affected. Perhaps it’s not enough–perhaps nothing ever could be enough–but it’s a start.

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