As wildfires force evacuations throughout Northern California, libraries are once again providing vital assistance to their communities.

For the past three years, Common Knowledge has supported the members of the NorthNet Library System as they provide aid to their counties and each other, with resources we’ve helped them capture at LibraryRecovery.org. In addition to safe spaces, internet and connection to social services, many of these libraries have been leading on mental health resources, as well.

Now, in El Dorado County where the Caldor Fire has destroyed one school and forced thousands to evacuate, the Placerville Library is hosting a learning hub for students displaced by the fire. In partnership with the Camino Union Elementary School District and the county office of education, the library is offering learning activities and meals for students. Library director Carolyn Brooks has explained how library staff are “essential workers” during times of disaster. 

For community members affected by the Dixie Fire, which has become the largest single wildfire in state history, the Plumas County Library has also been providing additional supports. After losing a branch library, as the fire devastated the community of Greenville, Plumas County Library branches in Quincy and Portola have extended hours and offered new programs. They are providing vital access to computers, WiFi and free printing services. The libraries are also offering concurrent children’s programming to support parents as they complete assistance forms and paperwork. Donations to help rebuild the Greenville Library can be made here.

These are just a few examples of how NorthNet libraries go above and beyond traditional service as they respond to community needs, even when their own staff and operations have suffered losses too. Leaders at NorthNet member libraries have been collecting and sharing their lessons learned and practical resources, including on LibraryRecovery.org, the network’s resource for disaster preparedness, response and recovery. As another difficult California fire season continues, we encourage all organizations to take advantage of this valuable resource.

If you’d like to support communities affected by the Caldor and Dixie fires, donations can be made to the following organizations:

The Plumas Bank Dixie Fire Fund
https://www.plumasbank.com/dixie-fire-fund

El Dorado Community Foundation
https://eldoradocf.org

North Valley Community Foundation Wildfire Relief & Recovery Fund
https://www.nvcf.org/wildfire-relief-and-recovery-fund

United Way of Northern California
https://www.norcalunitedway.org/wildfire-recovery-disaster