Collections > Master's Papers > School of Information and Library Science > "The Library Has Been There": Public Library Response in Times of Community Social Crisis

This paper describes a series of case studies of public libraries during times of community social crisis. The responses of libraries were compared to historical examples of library responses to times of war and natural disasters, in order to determine how similar these responses were to other types of disaster response.Three cases were examined: the Ferguson Municipal Public Library in 2014, the Baltimore Enoch Pratt Free Library in 2015, and the Charlottesville Jefferson Madison Regional Library in 2017. Reports of the library’s actions and of the community’s response were collected from contemporaneous and retrospective news reports, interviews, and social media postings. These libraries seemed to exhibit several of the same patterns of behavior exhibited by libraries during times of war or after natural disasters. The closer the library response mimicked that of a library during war or natural disaster, the more positive the community response seemed to be.