The conference agenda for the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Dealing with Disasters Conference recently held at Durham University in North East England boasted a lineup of international experts including Dr. Christine Hagar, an associate professor at the San José State University School of Information.
Hagar presented during the Communication and Learning in Disaster Risk Reduction track. Her paper, “Strengthening Community Engagement and Resilience Efforts in Climate Change: Public Program Strategies,” co-authored with Dr. Karen Brown of Dominican University, discussed the crisis informatics module she created for the Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement (PLACE) project.
The PLACE project, funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, targets rural and under-resourced communities, and “is designed to help communities build resilience by increasing environmental literacy specific to their region’s geography and the associated climate vulnerabilities,” Hagar said. Forty-five communities across the United States are participating in the PLACE project.
During the conference presentation, Hagar addressed key information challenges in disaster preparedness and recovery and how libraries can help communities. She suggested that libraries put strategies in place to prepare and respond to disasters and engage with communities to become focal points.
Residents affected by the North Bay fires in California can retreat to their local library for filtered air. Image courtesy Twitter @kron4news
“Librarians receive professional development about crisis informatics and the role of community agencies,” she explained, “adding, “Disasters are often essentially local events, and local organizations such as public libraries are critical in responding to them.”
Other conference presenters included keynote speaker Dr. Ciro Ugate, director of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief for Pan American Health Organization.
iSchool students interested in learning about the inter-connectedness of information, people, and technologies in a crisis/disaster, can enroll in Hagar’s INFO 281 Crisis/Disaster Health Informatics in the spring. To learn more about the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, visit the website.