This paper aims to describe the experience of the largest among many academic libraries in New Orleans severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina. In this case, at Tulane University, a remarkable early effort was undertaken to save collections and stabilize flooded library buildings. Other daunting challenges followed.
The paper reports observations on critical aspects of the library's recovery, which was still ongoing at the time of this writing more than two years after the hurricane.
The paper draws preliminary conclusions about disaster planning and response to actual disasters.
The event covered maybe unprecedented in many ways even apart from its scale, since its location was a major city that was almost entirely evacuated apart from military personnel. Effective disaster response is a context sensitive and complex undertaking. In this case special problems arose initially in just responding to the scene and later in ways connected to the staggering scope of the damage to the region surrounding. Nonetheless, tapping the expertise and resources of a skilled disaster mitigation company, Tulane and its library were able to stage a broad recovery effort.
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