It's feels like ages since I've added anything here on LibraryBytes. Truth is time slips by fast when you're seeped into learning and enjoying a new culture, but even faster when you're culture indulgence cuts you off from internet access.
For the last week and half, I've spent most of my time in the Otways (aka the western forests) of Victoria, Australia with my family. The escape to the rainforests and the Great Ocean Road of Australia was wonderful, but was also deeply sadden by the bushfire tragedies that stuck this area of the globe on February 8th. At present time, I think the number that loss their lives to the wild fires that spread rapidly in 100km winds is still hovering at just under 200. But with nearly 5000 homes lost to the fires as well, I couldn't help but think about the importance of libraries in times like these.
When I visited Australia in 07, I had the pleasure of meeting and traveling a bit with Denise Sippo, an outreach librarian with the Gippsland Library Service. The Gippsland forest region has been devastated by fires as well as has many smaller communities near and around Whitllsea, one of the council areas for the Yarra Plenty Regional Library. When I visited with Denise two years ago, i was totally struck by the stories she relaid to me about how libraries helped the community process the paperwork for flood damage and relief. Library services were indeed the life-bond for many community members and also for the councils themselves that didn't have government presence in many small communities.
Indeed libraries are vital not only in good times, but more importantly in needy times. Denise, if you're reading this, please send along a quick hello to let me know you're ok. And to Christine and the staff at YPRL, thanks again for your hospitality on my most recent trip. I know that with Whittlesea as part of your council, your libraries must be flooded with those who have lost everything in this tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers are with all you in Victoria who have not only been affected by these horrific fires but to also all those who are helping so many displaced to rebuild their lives.