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Participation in Volunteer Days in New Orleans


    Five University of Delaware librarians participated as volunteers to Katrina-damaged libraries in a program sponsored by the American Library Association to assist libraries in New Orleans.  The librarians who were attending the Annual Conference of its American Library Association in New Orleans participated on June 23, 2006 or June 27, 2006 in the humanitarian, daylong community service efforts, “Librarians Build Communities! Volunteer Opportunities in New Orleans”.  Over 900 ALA Annual Conference participants were notified in advance of the various projects available and were able to identify the effort in which they wished to provide assistance.  Keith Michaels Fiels, Executive Director of the American Library Association, sent a letter of appreciation to the Director of Libraries regarding the volunteer participation of the five University of Delaware librarians and commenting, “The commitment of your library and staff to help rebuild libraries and the communities in and around New Orleans was truly admirable.”

    M. Dina Giambi, Assistant Director for Library Technical Services, participated in a volunteer project at the West Bank Regional Library on June 23, 2006 and assisted in the set up and management of the Library’s book sale to be held on June 23, 24, and 27, 2006.  Although the building suffered major damage to the meeting room, the children’s area, and the adult non-fiction area, the collection was not damaged.  The first two days of the book sale generated $1,000 for the Library.  The team members also shifted parts of the collection, prepared items for circulation, picked up trash around the Library, and more.

    David Langenberg, Associate Librarian, Collection Development Department, participated in a volunteer project at the Algiers Branch of the New Orleans Public Library on June 27, 2006.  That branch library, across the river from New Orleans, is closed and is presently being renovated and used as a storage place for thousands of books sent to the New Orleans Public Library by citizens all over the United States.  The volunteer team of some twenty or so unpacked hundreds of boxes of these donated books and did “triage” work—the best books were boxed for Better World Books, the middling tier of books were boxed for ALA/FEMA, and the books in poorest condition were boxed for donation to thrift stores.

    Nancy Nelson, Head, Access Services Department, volunteered and designated the “Shelving Maven” at the Benjamin Franklin High School on June 23, 2006 to help install shelving and to move the collection.  During Katrina the school was flooded and the library, located on the first floor took on three feet of water.

    Carol A. Rudisell, Librarian, Reference Department, participated in a volunteer project at Southern University at New Orleans, a historically Black university.  The campus buildings were compromised by Hurricane Katrina and its entire library collection was lost.  The campus has been functioning out of FEMA trailers.  She worked in a Library trailer where they sifted through the many boxes of donated books to identify titles for priority processing.

    William Simpson, Senior Assistant Librarian, Reference Department, whose original volunteer assignment didn’t work out was subsequently taken with the group by the Science and Technology Section of the American Library Association on June 27, 2006 on a field trip to the hardest hit areas of New Orleans to explore the science behind the disaster and observe the recovery efforts ten months later.

Volunteers at ALA New Orleans

Nancy Nelson (center) volunteered at Benjamin Franklin High School on June 23, 2006.


Volunteers at ALA New Orleans 2006

Volunteers who participated in efforts at Southern University in New Orleans. Carol A. Rudisell, (front row kneeling and second from the right) Librarian, Reference Department volunteered for this project.


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