Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)


Library and Information Science


Debra L. Hansen


disaster, Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina, libraries, library disasters

Subject Areas

Library Science


In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast, becoming infamous for the destruction it wrought to communities from Louisiana to Alabama. Most notably, it caused massive flooding in New Orleans and surrounding parishes by breaching the levee system. The storm's impact on the region's population, buildings, and collective psyche is impossible to measure. As was the case with other Gulf Coast institutions in the path of Hurricane Katrina, the region's libraries also suffered extensively.

Through examination of the available literature and first-hand accounts of library professionals, this thesis examines the impact that Hurricane Katrina had on libraries in southeastern Louisiana, the New Orleans metropolitan area, and Southern Mississippi. It also considers the role disaster plans played in preserving select libraries' collections as well as some of the problems occurring with their implementation during the disaster. It was discovered that library disaster plans are designed to mitigate small, localized disasters, not those on the scale of Hurricane Katrina. It was also found that large scale disasters, like a hurricane or earthquake, render such plans ineffective, though action taken by library staff before and immediately afterward can make some difference. The thesis concludes with a list of recommendations for library disaster planning in the future.