Libraries help the community prepare better for natural disasters

04 July 2017

Today is Australasian Libraries in Emergency and Security (ALIES) Day, a day to acknowledge the important role that many people across Australia and New Zealand in technical specialists and support roles play to keep our community safe from natural disasters.

ALIES Day recognises in particular the important support that specialist libraries, such as the N.H. (Doc) Fisher Library at Geoscience Australia, provide to government and non-government agencies to help them undertake scientific research and develop disaster preparedness programs for communities.

Dr Jane Sexton, Section Leader of Geoscience Australia's Hazard and Risk Infrastructure section, said that partnerships such as these are at the core of emergency planning and disaster response activities, as they provide access to the full range of information resources required to develop accurate advice.

"Libraries play a key role in community resilience by making current and historical research easier to discover, which informs the development of good science," Dr Sexton added.

"They also play a crucial role in making sure that scientists, policy makers and politicians have access to the most relevant and up-to-date information and data needed to inform their decisions."

A panorama photo of the Geoscience Australia libraryGeoscience Australia's NH Doc Fisher Library

Library staff at Geoscience Australia provide an essential service, allowing scientists to undertake their research into the impact of a range of natural hazard disasters, including tsunami, earthquakes, landslides and flooding.

Some of the recent work by Geoscience Australia librarians includes discovering historical publications to support commemoration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1968 Meckering earthquake; historical research to support the revision of the Australian Tsunami Emergency Management Guidelines; and the severe wind and earthquake impact assessment projects being undertaken in collaboration with Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Australasian Libraries in Emergency and Security is a special interest group through the peak industry body Australian Library and Information Association.

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