Recovering Together

Over the past several years, multiple libraries in the NorthNet Library System (NLS) have been forced to confront challenges posed by natural disasters. Devastating wildfires, floods, earthquakes and resulting evacuations have demonstrated the vital role that libraries play both as a public resource and foundation for community connection.

Although much has been written about emergency preparedness, there is currently little guidance for libraries in the recovery phase. To better support libraries in our region and throughout the state, NLS has launched Recovering Together, an LSTA-grant-funded project to help the network learn more about how libraries have responded to natural disasters and helped their communities to recover in the months and years afterwards.

During this project, with help from consultant Common Knowledge, NLS is:

  • Collecting insights in a way that can be easily shared
  • Creating a central resource for policies, practices and lessons learned
  • Facilitating collaboration and coordination between libraries
  • Improving readiness before another disaster

The project will culminate in 2020 with the new Recovering Together website, which will feature resources, planning tools and stories from NLS member libraries. To help guide this effort, NorthNet and Common Knowledge, recently conducted a region-wide survey to identify:

  • NLS member experiences with disaster recovery
  • The type of content and resources NLS members would like to see on the new Recovering Together website
  • Additional staff members, volunteers and community allies who should be interviewed as part of this project

The survey highlighted a wide range of ways that library staff and volunteers have supported their communities following a disaster. The survey report can be downloaded here. The accompanying conversation guide builds on areas of need identified through the survey and is aimed at helping your library to be more prepared in the event of a community-wide disaster.

In the coming months, NLS will be conducting interviews with library staff, volunteers and community members to learn more about their experiences. If you have a story you’d like to share or a suggestion for who we should talk to, please email William Cooley at