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Donate Online to ALA Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund

Thankfully, the powers that be at ALA have finally developed an online tool for donating to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. People have short attention spans, and the agencies that are visible the earliest, and provide the easiest tools for online giving, have the advantage.

I am sorry to see the online donation tool announced on the 20th of September, not the 30th of August. I was dismayed to see that we did not have an online giving mechanism in place for Katrina, and I was almost as dismayed to go to other library-related relief sites and see instructions for sending in checks. On September 2, ALA Executive Keith Fiels explained that “What we have discovered in the last two days is that is that none of [ALA’s charitable giving activities] (including the joint association Tsunami relief fund) can accept online donations.” He added, “We are actively exploring some quickly implementable solution that would allow online donations to be channeled to these organizations.” A full eighteen days later, here we are.

On ALA Council, we have in the past discussed what ALA could do in the aftermath of an emergency, and frankly, aside from providing information (which American Libraries began doing before Katrina even hit, and I give them an A+ for timeliness and content, though a C+ for format–the updates should be delivered in individual blog entries), the next most important thing we can do is hop to it to raise money while people are still focused on the disaster.

I try to be a big booster of libraries as the crucibles of technology access, but that’s hard to do during those times when we look just plain backwards. However, I hope the development of this online giving tool means that the next time we need such a tool–and there will always be a “next time”–the tool will be ready for us.

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