The past month has seen much attention on earthquakes that hit various countries – first the devastating tremors and tsunami in Japan on 11 March, and then another that hit rural Myanmar (but was felt as far away in Bangkok) on 24 March. Most of us were moved by the reports and pictures of the damage in the mass media, and the personal accounts of some our colleagues, especially Yumiko Kasai. Many IASL members have offered to help in the country's reconstruction efforts. IASL member Kazuyuki Sunaga has already provided details (in a message on IAS-Link on 17 March) of one avenue to channel your contributions, but you may use other avenues you wish. I urge all IASL members to assist in whatever way you can.
We cannot prevent natural disasters such as earthquakes, but we can learn from them. A Filipino friend of mine forwarded to me an e-mail on "10 things we can learn from Japan". I do not know the origin of the message, but I was very impressed by the values it conveyed. The 10 lessons were:
1. THE CALM: Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
2. THE DIGNITY: Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
3. THE ABILITY: The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn't fall.
4. THE GRACE: People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
5. THE ORDER: No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding...
6. THE SACRIFICE: Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
7. THE TENDERNESS: Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
8. THE TRAINING: The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9. THE MEDIA: They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.
10. THE CONSCIENCE: When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly.
We should share them with others and pass them on to our children.
On a different note, as we approach summer in the northern hemisphere, it will be a time for many conferences, seminars, and other professional development activities. As you attend these events, please take some time to publicize the importance of school libraries and the role of IASL, especially to non-school librarians. We often complain that school libraries are not given the support they deserve. There is often a lack of a `buy-in' for school libraries. People will `buy' and support something only if they are convinced of the value of it. And valuing begins with awareness. So let us do what we can to create awareness of the wonderful things school libraries can do for our children.