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Tulsa public libraries provide refuge for people without power

 Inside of the Tulsa City County Library's Central branch in Downtown Tulsa.
Ben Abrams
Inside of the Tulsa City County Library's Central branch in Downtown Tulsa.

After severe storms hit Eastern Oklahoma this past weekend, some branches of the Tulsa City-County Library were spared from the damage and power outages, including the central branch Downtown. Residents took notice, finding refuge within the library's walls.

"People are coming in to charge up all their phones and their laptops. We also function as a cooling station," said Buddy Ingalls, the central branch's manager. "They can come in, cool off, and then we also have our library services. We have books, WiFi, internet access. They can come in and just try to have an enjoyable day and maybe forget about this storm for a little bit," he said.

Ingalls said this isn’t the first time the library has seen an increase in activity after destructive weather.

"We haven’t seen it like this since the ice storm. A lot of people have referenced the ice storm in 2007, but, at that time, we definitely functioned as kind of an emergency response area," Ingalls said. "We also try to provide customer service: extra story times, put on a movie, whatever we can do to kind of make people feel comfortable and feel at home at their library," he said.

Ingalls also said library staff have remained in good spirits despite the circumstances.

"Most of my staff don’t have power, either, but they’re still getting up, coming through for our customers. That’s really why they work at the library: they want to make people’s lives better and serve our customers," he said.

While the central branch has retained power throughout the storm’s aftermath, many other branches are still closed due to lack of power.

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
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