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Title: Rural Resiliency Hubs: An Integrated, Community-Centered Approach to Addressing the Resiliency Divide through Rural Public Libraries
Resilience is often treated as a single-dimension system attribute, or various dimensions of resilience are studied separately without considering multi-dimensionality. The increasing frequency of catastrophic natural or man-made disasters affecting rural areas demands holistic assessments of community vulnerability and assessment. Disproportionate effects of disasters on minorities, low-income, hard-to-reach, and vulnerable populations demand a community-oriented planning approach to address the “resilience divide.” Rural areas have many advantages, but low population density, coupled with dispersed infrastructures and community support networks, make these areas more affected by natural disasters. This paper will catalyze three key learnings from our current work in public librarians’ roles in disaster resiliency: 1) rural communities are composed of diverse sub-communities, each which experiences and responds to traumatic events differently, depending on micro-geographic and demographic drivers; 2) public libraries are central to rural life, providing a range of informational, educational, social, and personal services, especially in remote areas that lack reliable access to community resources during disasters; and 3) rural citizens tend to be very self-reliant and are committed to strengthening and sustaining community resiliency with local human capital and resources. Public libraries and their librarian leaders are often a “crown jewel” of rural areas’ community infrastructure and this more » paper will present a community-based design and assessment process for resiliency hubs located in and operated through rural public libraries. The core technical and social science research questions explored in the proposed paper are: 1) Who were the key beneficiaries and what did they need? 2) What was the process of designing a resiliency hub? 3) What did library resiliency hubs provide and how can they be sustained? This resiliency hub study will detail co-production of solutions and involves an inclusive collaboration among researchers, librarians, and community members to address the effects of cascading impacts of natural disasters. The novel co-design process detailed in the paper reflects 1) an in-depth understanding of the complex interactions among libraries, residents, governments, and other agencies by collecting sociotechnical hurricane-related data for Calhoun County, Florida, USA, a region devastated by Hurricane Michael (2018) and hard-hit by Covid-19; 2) analyzed data from newly-developed fusing algorithms and incorporating multiple communities; and 3) co-designed resiliency hubs sited in public libraries. This research leverages a unique opportunity for the co-development of integrated library-centered policies and technologies to establish a new paradigm for developing disaster resiliency in rural settings. Public libraries serve a diverse population who will directly benefit from practical support tailored to their needs. The project will inform efficient plans to ensure that high-need groups are not isolated in disasters. The knowledge and insight gained from disseminating the study’s results will not only improve our understanding of emergency response operations, but also will contribute to the development of new disaster-related policies and plans for public libraries, with a broader application to rural communities in many settings. « less
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Lankes, R.David
Award ID(s):
2133308 2041039
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
New Librarianship Symposia
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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