The experience of disaster and crisis management in libraries

Liz Walkley Hall, Jane Garner, Simon Wakeling

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


It may be hard to remember, but there was once a time before COVID-19. In those long-ago days, disaster and crisis planning was, of course, an important issue for libraries. But the types of disasters that preoccupied those responsible for such strategy in Australia were typically time-limited and localised: fires and floods, earthquakes and mould. The past 18 months, and the disruption and suffering that the pandemic has caused, has led to an urgent rethinking of not only how libraries should properly respond to and prepare for long-term, all-encompassing crises, but also a need to reflect on the purpose and value of libraries, in times of disaster and beyond.
As a guest editorial team we have experienced different catalysts for organising this special issue. Some of us are practitioners, and have lived and worked through the challenges COVID-19 has brought to the business of delivering information, resources and services to users. Others of us are researchers, and have undertaken projects investigating how libraries across Australia have responded to the crisis. In all cases we have been struck by the creativity and commitment shown by library management and staff across library sectors. And we have noted how in many cases it has sadly been the most vulnerable and underserved sections of society who have been most affected, and the most in need of library services at just the time when they have proven most difficult to deliver.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-242
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Australian Library and Information Association
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jul 2021


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