GULFPORT – University of
Southern Mississippi officials believe the school’s newly established
Hurricane Katrina Research Center will provide researchers and
others with a definitive source for information about the worst
natural disaster to hit the United States.
The Katrina Research Center will serve as a repository that
collects, preserves and provides both physical and virtual access
to documentary evidence related to Hurricane Katrina. Faculty
and staff at the university are already working to build a comprehensive
archive of research materials in a variety of formats, including
photographs, oral histories, architectural records, and storm
and recovery video, among others.
A formal announcement of the center’s founding will be made
in early 2006.
The Katrina Research Center is actively seeking donations of
the aforementioned items and others to house in the center,
which will be located in University Libraries.
“There’s a lot of information being produced every day and
all the time about the storm and its effects,” said University
Librarian Kay Wall, who will serve as the center’s first director.
“We would lose a lot of this information if we didn’t make efforts
now to capture it.”
Wall said the university’s establishment of the center will
help in providing leverage for external research funding, as
well as provide a clearinghouse for Katrina-related information.
“The Katrina Research Center offers the university a unique
and extraordinary opportunity to both preserve artifacts and
narratives associated with the storm and to give research faculty
a conduit to share their Hurricane Katrina-related research
with a broad audience,” said Dr. David Butler, a Southern Miss
assistant professor of economic development who is helping with
the development of a business plan for the center.
The Katrina Research Center will also sponsor traveling exhibits
and conferences, as well as provide researchers the opportunity
to examine documentation that captures the event from a personal
standpoint. It will also provide faculty and staff who may be
developing research with a vital collection of resources.
The storm’s impact on Mississippi will be the primary focus
of the center, although other information about Katrina’s effects
on the Gulf South will be available.
Wall said that the university’s library facilities, staff and
resources are an appropriate fit for the center. “Documentation
and arrangement and access of these kinds of materials, including
printed paper as well as digital, is what we do, especially
in special collections,” she said.
Those interested in making contributions are asked to also
consider donating such items as scientific data; government
and planning documents; before-and-after (storm) photos; art;
organizational records; literary works; sound recordings; Web
site information, including message boards, Weblogs, etc.; journals
or diaries; and printed items such as flyers or posters.
For more information, contact University Libraries at Southern
Miss at 601.266.4241 or visit Katrinaresearchcenter@usm.edu
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