Dare to Prepare - Leaning into Disaster Management

In times of crisis, public libraries have always leaned in to provide support to their communities.  With extreme weather events on the rise, both City of Moreton Bay Libraries (Queensland) and Blue Mountains Libraries (NSW) have responded to crises in their city to help the community on the ground, help them recover and prepare for the future with these 2 examples of disaster management infrastructure.

City of Moreton Bay Libraries partnered with their Disaster Management colleagues to respond in an official capacity, as part of the official disaster management infrastructure.  When there is an emergency situation in Moreton Bay, be it a flood, a heatwave or a bushfire, libraries are stood up as ‘Places of Refuge’ to triage the initial needs of community members.   This initiative has had significant impact, as it is a new and inspired response by libraries to a community in crisis. It demonstrates that libraries are not only welcoming and safe places, but they are also institutional and community supporters, information disseminators, partners, educators, and information community builders.  By meeting the community’s psychosocial, physical, logistical and information needs, the establishment of libraries as a ‘Place of Refuge’ had a positive impact on Council and the community.  City of Moreton Bay Libraries have also benefited from this initiative, increasing in their visibility and their value within Council and the community, and leveraging capital benefits to ensure future capability.  The ‘Places of Refuge’ initiative has positioned the ten City of Moreton Bay Libraries as critical infrastructure, that is fundamental to the disaster management response, and they are now funded accordingly.

 The Blue Mountains Bushfire Recovery Outreach – Library2U & Satellite WiFi Project
Library2U is an outreach service currently being established by the Blue Mountains Library for the bushfire-affected, remotely located communities of Megalong Valley and Mount Wilson. The project is funded by the Federal Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program. Through Library2U, residents have ongoing access to the Blue Mountains Library collection through library lockers located at Mt Wilson and Megalong Valley community halls. Crucial communications upgrades are also be provided through the installation of satellite WiFi at the Mt Wilson and Megalong Valley community halls. This free, ongoing internet access supports the Library2U service, and provides an invaluable community resource.  The installation of Satellite WiFi will directly support bushfire recovery and resilience efforts. Offering residents day-to-day internet connectivity and providing a communications safety net in emergencies, Satellite WiFi will also help make Megalong Valley and Mt Wilson community halls more suitable venues to assist in emergency management situations. The project also aimed to provide an equity of service to rate payers and support the development and connectedness of the unique communities of Mt Wilson and Megalong Valley.

These library services have responded to their community needs by listening to what is required and implementing ongoing emergency and recovery infrastructure.

Lisa Bateman

Library Services Manager, City of Moreton Bay Libraries

Author Bio

With decades of experience in leadership roles within public libraries, Lisa is currently employed as the Library Services Manager at City of Moreton Bay Libraries. Lisa served as QPLA President Elect from 2018-2020 and QPLA President from 2020 -2022, marking her term of office with innovation and tangible outcomes. Lisa is currently a member of the National Early Language and Literacy Coalition and actively contributes to national projects through her work with ALIA.

Vicki Edmunds

Manager, Community and Library, Blue Mountains City Council

Author Bio

Vicki has always been attracted to Libraries – and reading from the adult collections from a young age, working in Library seemed like a natural progression. Vicki has worked in a variety of Libraries – from Canterbury Municipal Council to the Department of Architecture, University of Sydney. However her 2 favourite jobs have been with the Natural History Museum Library in London where she helped researchers, professors and field workers with original research in the flora, fauna and insect world – and establishing the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Research Library, where staff would come to get up to speed on how their areas were run in previous Games, or to find out the latest statistics or demographical information for planning purposes. Vicki has also been the ALIA President 2021-23 and before that represented the members as an ALIA Board member from 2019, and as the ALIA Vice-President in 2020. Vicki currently works with Blue Mountains City Council as the Manager of Community & Library. Vicki is an active participant in the NSW Public Libraries Association and is the current Sydney West Public Libraries Association Zone Secretary, sits on the State Library of NSW Strategic Network Committee and been on the NSW Public Libraries Association Conference Committee in 2019 and 2023. More recently, Vicki oversaw the refurbishment of Springwood Library which re-opened to the community on 1 May 2023.