emergencies, public information, and libraries

When disaster strikes, is the library web site a place you could go to for breaking news, even if the library was closed? I hate to be a disaster vulture, but I always wonder when things happen like the tsunami, or 9/11, or this hurricane, what is the library’s role? How could their web presence help people? Here are some other New Orleans web sites, to demonstrate what I mean.

  • the Loyola web site automatically redirects their home page to the emergency announcement page and includes a bright yellow button on the footer of every page on the site so even if you start on a page within the site, you’ll see their announcements.
  • Louisiana State has a news sidebar explaining that the school will be closed
  • The Louisiana Library Collection Database even managed to put two links in which aren’t too styling but direct people to FEMA and the National Hurricane Center
  • LSU Health Sciences does it quickly and simply with a big emergency headline across the main page.
  • Nichols State even appears to have a blog ready for emergency preparedness with a way to post regular updates, linked off of the main page.

My question to you: if there was an emergency, could you update your library home page quickly to inform your patrons?

update: due to sporadic electricity in the Louisiana area, many of these sites are now down. I’ve added a bit more description in lieu of actual pages you can look at.