Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chilean Libraries Update

On February 27th, one of the most powerful earthquakes in history devastated a large part of Chile. The earthquake and 150 aftershocks affected six regions in the country, killing almost 300 individuals and impacting over 2 million people.

In the aftermath, many libraries have been damaged or destroyed. Early reports indicate that nearly 50% of Chile's libraries have been damaged, and six completely destroyed.

However, the news is not all bad. 133 public libraries have been able to restore their services. At the same time, of the 154 remaining libraries in the affected areas, no communication has been established with some, others remain closed or used as temporary headquarters for Municipal services, and many others have suffered structural damage.

In the wake of the disaster, Internet access is vital to Chileans seeking contact with friends and family. The BiblioRedes Program is Chile's largest network of free access to Internet, where the public library in one of every three communes is the only free access point for Internet. According to Gloria Perez Salmaron, Chair of Catalan Library Association, who has had direct communication with library staff in Chile, the employees of the public library maintain their conviction to help others and insist that these gathering spaces for the community should be included in the priority for reconstruction, such as hospitals, housing and roads. Reestablishing the BiblioRedes Program is a crucial part of the reconstruction process.

The American Library Association's Chile Library Relief group offers ways for you to donate to library relief efforts in Chile. Click here for more information.

image of the Biblioteca Pelluhue, San Javier, Chile from ALA Chile Library Relief Group.

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