This project was funded by the RDO’s Jumpstarting Tomorrow Initiative. The project period was July 2021 – June 2023.

Funded by the Jumpstarting Tomorrow grant is the Public Libraries for Disaster Resilience: Assessing Libraries’ Community Impacts in Times of Climate and Socio-Economic Crises Project. Our research seeks to answer the big question: how do public libraries mitigate community vulnerabilities and build resilience to climate, social, and economic risks? This project will also utilize team-building methods to develop a launching platform for a sustainable UI interdisciplinary research group focused on Community Resilience.

Libraries provide welcoming spaces and essential services during crises: shelter from extreme heat/cold waves for the poor and homeless, internet access, job search and training during economic recessions, and reliable information during crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Using spatial, quantitative, qualitative, and social media data mining methods, the project will yield a public-facing report of the findings, produce scholarly publications, and serve as a pilot study for several major external grant proposals.

Core Team

The Core Team includes scholars from the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Planning and Public Affairs, the Department of Sociology and Criminology, and the Tippie College of Business.

Team PI: Lucie Laurian (School of Planning and Public Affairs, Graduate College)


Team Members:

  • Abbie Steuhm
  • Carrie Scheuttpelz
  • Julie Pacheco
  • Brady Hill
  • Samiul Islam
  • Kristi Hager
  • Tosin Opeoluwa
  • Jennifer Burek Pierce
  • Kate Magsamen-Conrad
  • Linda Stewart Kroom
  • Maggy Hoyden
  • Megan Gilster
  • Nicole Novak
  • Sarah Witry
  • Susannah Wood
  • Rich Dana

Projects, Meetings, and Future Works

Libraries for Resilient Communities Grant

LARC plans to grant up to $50,000 to participating libraries in order to implement new programs and hire social workers for their library, improving their range of abilities to better serve vulnerable communities. Through our general meetings with public librarians and academics, as well as surveys of public libraries across the midwest, LARC will develop new social programs and career opportunities for public libraries to better serve their communities in times of crisis.

Click here to view more information and how to apply.

LARC Meetings

The first general meeting between the public librarians and academics was a great success with 19 total guests and some delicious food. Topics of discussion were on elevating the status of libraries by demonstrating their contributions; gender roles associated with librarians and their impact; information, misinformation, and public trust in libraries and librarians; and methods of assessing community/patrons’ needs.
Our discussions this semester have highlighted three themes: (1) Libraries are asked to “do more with less”, i.e., provide an increasing range of community-supportive services, especially serving individuals with limited resources. While they are willing and well positioned to provide those services, resource constraints are practical barriers. (2) Libraries need better information on community needs so that they can focus their programs on the most needed resources, while also meeting their communities’ long-term needs.  (3) Libraries need evidence demonstrating their programs’ impacts and community contributions to justify and apply for grants or budgetary increases.   

Our new suggested project thus aims at assessing whether and how social workers can enhance library services, and set-up evaluation mechanisms that will demonstrate the impacts of libraries on community resilience and wellbeing.