How One Librarian Made a Difference
On March 12th, 2020, literally days before all of our lives changed by the COVID-19 lock down, Linda Houle (a long time LiveBinders curator) and I Zoomed with Elizabeth Kahn, the Library Media Specialist at Patrict Taylor Science and Technology Academy in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to talk about her Hurricane Katrina LiveBinder. In the interview, Elizabeth clearly demonstrates how important our role as custodians to historical events really are. Here is why.
In 2005 those of us old enough will remember Hurricane Katrina and how devastating it was to New Orleans and the towns, schools and people who were displaced by it. Fear was palpable, but through time the impact, the trauma, the fear starts to fade. Elizabeth and her colleagues had a simple epiphany: A generation of students are growing up without any knowledge of this devastation and how it displaced a million people in a matter of hours and impacted their own family’s lives.
At that time, Elizabeth does what librarians are trained to do, she goes out and finds information, resources that can help tell the story of what happened in 2005. She vets information and then she goes a step further, she builds a narrative in the way she organizes her resources. In this case, she puts them in a digital binder because so many things that she wanted to illustrate are captured on film. She starts to build activities that she can share with teachers. It moves from one classroom to many classrooms, even to classrooms outside of the neighborhood she is trying to preserve.
But there is something that happened that is unique only to this digital world. Those primary sources started disappearing, and that’s the part where you hear Linda and I reflecting upon it in the beginning of the podcast. In the actual interview, you’ll hear Elizabeth bring this up as something that is part of her routine, but it is significantly more revealing about her commitment to the cause and to what it takes to keep a history alive.
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