College of Communication & Information Researchers Partnering on Grant to Improve Public Libraries Disaster Response

written by Diona Crawford

Dr. Marcia A. Mardis

Florida State University, in partnership with University of Texas Austin, was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services research grant to investigate how small and often rural public libraries contribute to community viability in the face of disasters and crises, particularly with the use of information and communication technologies. The project is headed by Dr. Sharon Strover at the University of Texas in Austin and Dr. Marcia A. Mardis and Dr. Faye R. Jones at FSU. The total award is $268,371 and the 18-month grant begins on December 1, 2018.

Focused on improved planning and management tools, the research team will seek to understand public library resilience during stressful events. This research is critical to understanding of the aftermath of natural disasters, especially when many public libraries were re-purposed as disaster relief centers during the record-breaking hurricane season in 2017 in the Gulf of Mexico, and a harrowing fire season in Western regions. Building on prior influential work on public libraries and hurricane preparedness done by the FSU Information Institute, the team will focus on how libraries adapt to threats or disturbances; refocus priorities and capacities; and learn and change in the face of environmental stresses such as natural disasters. The project will include 10-15 public libraries on the Texas and Florida Gulf coasts.

Dr. Faye R. Jones

Jones is a Senior Research Associate at the FSU College of Communication and Information’s Information Institute. Mardis is an Associate Professor in FSU’s School of Information and the College of Communication and Information’s Assistant Dean for Interdisciplinary Research and Education. Dr. Mardis is also the Associate Director of the Information Institute. The FSU team will be assisted by FSU School of Information doctoral student Curtis Tenney. Find out more about the FSU Information Institute here.