Mother Nature is sending humanity a message. Hurricanes, tsunamis, tropical storms, earthquakes, flooding, raging forest fires, are all part of this unprecedented dispatch. The world’s major cities, like New York, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, are significantly below sea level, years of concrete on top of concrete pushing these crowded houses down into the Earth. The oceans are rising. Although Wisconsin is not in danger of a tsunami, Wisconsin is exposed to flooding, tornadoes, and could face increasingly large power outages. Other potentially dangerous variables exist as well, some that we may not be able to take into account at the moment. With this being said, if elected Governor of Wisconsin, I propose that we make modest transformations to public libraries throughout the state, so that they can serve as “emergency checkpoints” for all citizens in the event of such emergencies.
Since its creation, the Wisconsin Public Library System has clearly expanded with a geographical framework in place. Libraries are proportionally separated from each other, and appropriately inlaid amidst populated areas. As you can see from the map, the public library system is already well-defined. All branches are aware of one another’s locations; some staff may already know their colleagues at other library locations. There is already a state-wide on-line system that connects all of Wisconsin’s public libraries, “LINKcat”.
Consider that our public libraries already contain computers, phones, fax machines, internet, knowledgeable staff (if present), and a wealth of information within. There are also vehicles, such as box trucks, that are operated by the library system to transport books and materials about the state. It is likely that many of the branches will have bi-lingual staff members (if present). It is definitely possible that certain conveniences (like the internet) will be unavailable, nonetheless I believe it is still important to note them as potential resources in a time of need.
Some libraries might not need to be transformed or even utilized in this capacity, while others would likely require some type of remodeling. In a time of need, the homogenous essence of libraries helps define a pre-designated location that can be easier to find and recognize. In the wake of climate change, and for the overall safety of all Wisconsinites, I advocate for having a certain degree of readiness, a certain degree of foresight when it comes to realizing the dangers before us. There are water towers amongst us. Imagine the time when those are actually tapped into. We will wish we had taken some such measures in the wake of a natural disaster or other scenario of significant impact. Imagining the need for such preparation is a bit overwhelming, but implementing a strategy for the health and safety of our communities, establishing these “emergency checkpoints” ahead of time, is yet another important symbol of the shared interests of all Wisconsinites, interests that actually bring us together:
I am a strong advocate for public libraries, and despite these proposed changes, as Governor, Wisconsin’s public libraries will maintain their natural roles in our society, and continue to flourish within those roles.