Public libraries provide a wealth of information to their patrons on virtually any topic. This includes resources for individuals responding to tragedy. Although this is often a difficult subject to approach due to its emotional nature, patrons may need this information now more than ever, due to the recent spate of mass shootings.
One excellent starting point for librarians is ASPR TRACIE’s “Post-Mass Shootings Programs and Resources Overview.” ASPR (the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and operates TRACIE (Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange). TRACIE’s mission is to provide reliable information to those working in public health and emergency management, but anyone affected by a major emergency can access its high-quality resources.
This document, relating specifically to the June 12, 2016, shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub but applicable to other events, contains a comprehensive list of programs, behavioral health and LGBT support resources, and subject matter experts. Each entry includes a brief description and contact information, where applicable, and the document’s format makes it easy to find the necessary information at a glance.
The depth of TRACIE’s compilation makes it a great reference for responding to patrons’ needs that extend beyond the typical news story. While some entries are specific to the Orlando area, others are more general and therefore well suited to anyone coping with a mass shooting or other attack as well as general trauma. Many Spanish translations are included as well. Most importantly, each entry is a reliable source of information, so librarians and patrons alike can be confident they are receiving the best content available.
As a librarian, I would make such a resource available to patrons in a few different ways. This document would be helpful to keep at service desks for ready reference. Given the sensitive nature of the content, not all patrons may feel comfortable directly asking a staff member for help; therefore, I would also link to the most applicable resources online via the library’s website and/or social media accounts. If your library has a place for physical handouts, a list of recommended resources could be put out for patrons to take home as well.
Has your library received reference questions centering on these recent events? How are you handling them?