This Louisiana Library is Keeping Its Community Strong After Devastating Hurricanes

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This August, Hurricane Laura made landfall across southwest Louisiana, devastating communities that had already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic; in October, Hurricane Delta brought even more destruction to the region. With help from a $20,000 donation from the American Library Association (ALA), the Calcasieu Parish Public Library (CPPL) has been instrumental in local recovery efforts, connecting residents to much-needed technology access and information.

The damage from the storms forced several CPPL branches to close, but staff recognized that community members still needed library services more than ever. “There is very limited access to computers, printers, copiers, fax service in the parish as a result of the hurricanes,” CPPL director Marjorie Harrison told ALA. “People need to file insurance and FEMA claims, file for unemployment, find work, and communicate with loved ones.”

To help residents get the digital access they need, CPPL launched weekly pop-up library service in key areas—locals can stop by and use technology in socially-distant tents. “Patrons are very grateful. I watched a patron sit outside for over an hour under a pop-up tent in the parking lot of the Epps branch using one of the library’s laptop computers,” Harrison shared. “She walked over from a house nearby and was thrilled to be able to use a computer at the library.”

A $20,000 donation from ALA’s Disaster Relief Fund will allow CPPL to expand their services to affected communities in the new year. The gift will go toward three portable buildings that will be hooked up to utilities for a return to full, staffed service, as well as technology kits to provide convenient Wi-Fi, printing, and scanning.

“The funds will allow us to provide regular, daily library service in these communities that no longer have a local branch library,” Harrison said. “Patrons will be overjoyed to have their branch and all its services back!”

To support libraries in need, donate to the American Library Association Disaster Relief Fund.