Hurricanes, tsunamis, tropical storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding, and raging forest fires are all part of an unprecedented dispatch from Mother Nature. New York, Tokyo, and Los Angeles are significantly below sea level; years of concrete on top of concrete pushing them into the Earth. The oceans are rising. Wisconsin is exposed to flooding, tornadoes, and large power outages. Other potentially dangerous variables exist that we may not be able to take into account at the moment. 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.
Libraries are proportionally separated from each other, inlaid amidst populated areas, and well-defined. All branches are synchronized with one another; there is already a state-wide on-line system that connects all of Wisconsin’s public libraries, “LINKcat”. Public libraries contain computers, phones, fax machines, internet, bilingual staff (if present), and a wealth of information within. Many “seed libraries” are now maintained within our public libraries. Wisconsin’s public library system also possesses vehicles such as box trucks, which are utilized to transport materials about the state.
Some libraries may not need to be utilized in this capacity, others would likely require remodeling. In the wake of climate change and our overall safety, Wisconsin needs a degree of readiness to address the future. When water towers are actually tapped into, we will wish we had taken such measures. 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 symbolic of the shared interests of all Wisconsinites.
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.