When the waters of Hurricane Katrina retreated back to the Gulf of Mexico last August 29th, when the wind died down, they left, as has been shown and described over and over, massive devastation. Among the things ruined in the storm were many library facilities on the Mississippi coast. The details are staggering:
- The Hancock County Library System lost nearly it’s entire 117,000 volume collection, along with severe to total damage to 3 of the 4 facilities
- The Harrison County Library System lost perhaps half of it’s 315,000 volumes, 3 of 5 facilities destroyed.
- The Long Beach Public Library lost all 60,000 volumes and the library building.
- The East Mississippi Regional Library lost all 97,000 volumes and it’s only building. [Correction – thanks to James for pointing this out – EMRL does have facilities in other area towns, and I’m guessing that the 97,000 volumes were for the entire system, not just the one facility that was lost, so they weren’t completely wiped out]
- The Jackson-George County Library System lost about 20% of it’s 300,000 volumes.
While the numbers may seem relatively small when compared to, say, the New York Public Library’s 49 million holdings, the effects of the loss of even small systems like these can be severe and long-lasting on the communities they serve, and replacing the holdings will be difficult when all public resources are stretched beyond breaking by more immediate needs. So, I think it’s important to get the word out about an opportunity to directly help rebuild these libraries. A fund has been set up for this purpose:
Rebuild Mississippi Libraries Fund
c/o AmSouth Bank
210 E. Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39201
Contributions are tax-deductible. If you love libraries like I do, please consider making a donation.