Butte County: California Libraries in Wildfires’ Wake

From American Libraries

“Public institutions across the country are rallying in support of displaced library employees and libraries devastated by wildfires in California that have claimed more than 80 lives and resulted in the evacuation of tens of thousands people.“Miraculously, the Paradise branch of the Butte County Library system is still standing,” says Butte County Library Director Melanie Lightbody, noting that it’s one of the only remaining structures in the town.The remaining five branches in the system are still operational and have become information centers, offering computers, Wi-Fi, and printers to help displaced residents contact insurance companies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies.“Right now, part of the biggest issue we have going on is people have lost their technology,” Lightbody says.Five of the library’s 26 staff members have lost their homes to the fire, Lightbody says.“We have many people affected by the fire, so we are still in an urgent situation,” she says. “We are just now starting to look at disaster recovery. One of the things I’m working on is trying to get into the [Paradise branch] building.”Also on the long list of concerns are the historical records and archives located at the Paradise branch, Lightbody said. While the library was not destroyed by the fire, the building and its contents have suffered extensive smoke damage.”