Libraries in Crises - or Not

I was just discussing this with one of my former professors this weekend: Free flow of information is critical in crisis. Although this article discusses the role of churches as points of access to information in times of crisis, I think it has, at least in the U.S., been seen as an essential - perhaps even a defining - role of libraries. When people need information - when crisis hits and you don't know what to do - you head to the library, where you can find information on organizations that can help, information about what exactly is going on and what you're supposed to do about it, information on how to contact loved ones.

I have a friend in Liberia, and the U.S. has a special relationship with that nation, so I've been thinking about Liberia in particular throughout the Ebola crisis. I wonder what the history and current situation of librarianship in Liberia is, and whether a stronger library system, particularly public and school libraries, could have made a difference in educating people about how to manage Ebola outbreaks in their communities, how to honor their deceased loved ones without putting their families in jeopardy, and why their government is taking drastic actions to limit the scope of the crisis - not to mention how the international community is responding to their need, and how worried and saddened we are by their trouble.


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