The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the role of libraries as community institutions by reflecting on the experience of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL), Missouri, USA, during the time of social unrest in the summer of 2014. The research explores the traditional and non-traditional roles of libraries during times of social unrest while focusing on relevant areas of crisis management preparedness and competencies necessary during crisis.
The study adopts a qualitative approach in investigating the research problem and uses the case study method to collect relevant data.
This paper reports on the experience of the FMPL staff during this time. Their experience of what happened, how they dealt with it, and what their expectations were after the crisis are all documented.
Several scholars have studied how public libraries respond to disasters, yet little is known about whether public libraries proactively engage in community-wide disaster planning, and if so, what is the nature of those partnerships.
The author most grateful to FMPL public library director and all the other library staff who kindly contributed to this research and also to author’s mentor Professor Abdus Sattar Chaudhry and Professor Marie L. Radford for their insights and encouragements.
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