Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
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Katherine Moody - Caring for communities following the Canterbury earthquakes: How the GLAM sector responded

Katherine Moody presents her paper to the LIANZA 2014 conference in Auckland on how the GLAM sector supported their community following the Canterbury earthquakes.

Catastrophic events can lead to innovation within organisations and communities, helping both to recover, move on and thrive again. The 2010-2011 Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes were the most disastrous sequence of events in New Zealand’s recent history, and institutions in the GLAM sector had to respond to the needs of affected communities in innovative and reassuring ways. Mainly using Christchurch City Libraries and the Air Force Museum of New Zealand as case studies, but also considering other Christchurch GLAM institutions, this paper examines the roles these organisations took within communities in the aftermath of the quakes. Christchurch City Libraries is a large public library network with over 20 service points which were all affected in different ways after the quakes, whereas the Air Force Museum is sited on the former Wigram air force base (which brought its own responsibilities) on the relatively unaffected west side of the city. For these two organisations sometimes simply being open, creating a sense of routine and connecting people to something familiar, was enough. At other times it was a case of taking services to damaged areas, running special community events, collaborating with other organisations, rescuing precious heritage or hosting organisations that were facilitating the recovery effort or providing vital services. How staff and communities reacted to these activities will be considered. The talk will then widen out to examine the expectations of organisations in the GLAM sector following a major event – are different types of organisation expected to react to community needs in varying ways? How far can, or should, a GLAM organisation assist in the aftermath of a disaster, and what lessons can be taken forward for the rest of the country?

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