Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

As you may have heard, a tornado cut through my hometown and much of Western Massachusetts on June 1st. Four people died, many were injured, and property damage (including to my friend Kim’s brother’s house) was estimated to total over $90 million dollars. My family and friends and I are just fine otherwise, thank you to all who reached out to make sure of this. Your friendship is much appreciated. It’s nice when the internet is so…imaginary, I guess would be the word…that you really cared about me. Staggering to think about.

Here are some (pretty disturbing with explicit language) amateur videos of the tornado outbreak:

But with every cloud comes a silver lining…

Massachusetts Mayor: “Library Service Is Essential After Tornado”

American Libraries Magazine (Online Edition)

June 8th, 2011

BY BEVERLY GOLDBERG

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.

It’s really nice to have the Springfield mayor recognize publicly and explicitly the need for public library service for all. I wish more politicians, well, regular folks too, would get on board with this train of thought.

And while we’re at it, I must also wholeheartedly agree with an anonymous commenter on the above article:

And yet the budgets of Springfield Library, and libraries everywhere are facing slashing and layoffs. If they are so important as to keep them open in a state of emergency, then they should be facing the same layoffs that police and fire are: None.

This dovetails nicely with the recent United Nations report declaring internet access an undeniable and universal human right. After all, where else are you guaranteed you to that for free other than your local public library?

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