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Every Survival Community Needs a Town Library

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Every Survival Community Needs a Town Library

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I have always been a huge fan of public libraries.  As a matter of fact, before the era of eBooks, one criteria I used to determine where to live was the proximity of a public library.  Can you imagine doing that now?  These days, libraries do not need to be within commuting distance since most, if not all libraries offer a free and convenient way to download eBooks, magazines, music and videos from the comfort of your home.

In addition, did you know that most libraries have a request feature where you can borrow titles not in their inventory from other library systems?  In many cases the cost is free or quite nominal.  They also have a feature where you can suggest titles to add to their inventory.  I do this all of the time with preparedness and survival titles that are extraordinary.  100% of the time, the books I have suggested have been added and are now available for free checkout to the rest of the community.

Every Survival Community Needs a Town Library | Backdoor Survival

This helps my neighbors as well as the authors themselves.  Win win!

Why Every Survival Community Needs a Library

My garage is full of prepping and survival books stored in boxes. These are books in print format, both hardback and softback.  Many were Prepper Book Festival tomes that have been either read or scanned, then set aside as I moved on to the next book on the list.  The really good ones were also acquired in eBook or audiobook format so they would be more convenient to read or listen to on the go.

I also have tons of cookbooks, gardening books, how-to books from the 70s and 80s, and old technical manuals from my software industry days. The best of the cookbooks have already been set aside as keepers, especially those from the 30s and 40s that are honest-to-good bibles on scratch cooking and household chores of the era.

Additional Reading: 8 Reasons Old Cookbooks Are Important

With space being so limited, I had considered giving all of these books to the local thrift store.  Until now.

What is a Survival Community?

Before I explain, it is important to define how I am using the term “Survival Community” within the context of this article.

A survival community, by my definition, is a group of individuals and families that have bonded together following a major disruptive event.  Traditional life has changed; perhaps the grid is down for the long term, or there has been anarchy or a pandemic requiring isolation from the rest of the world.  Whatever the reason, a group of like minded individuals has come together to share their knowledge, skills, and yes, even consumables such as food, water, medical supplies, and ammo.

The goal of the community is self-reliance during difficult, if not impossible, times.  Note that this differs from what I refer to as a “Prepper Community” that comes together in good times to share information, skills, and knowledge but not the communal sharing of physical resources.

Additional reading: 5 Important Considerations When Forming a Prepper Community and Community Survival: Bringing Friends and Family Into the Fold

In the survival community, as I have defined it, there is a centralized location where members can meet and share news of the day.  In the old days, this was often referred to as the Town Hall.  Not only would the town hall be a place to meet to define the rules of governance, it would be a place to share information, and perhaps relax over a board game or a hand of gin rummy or canasta.

I propose that such a community also have a library, where the members can check out books on a wide variety of topics.  Those topics mimic the books in my boxes: starting seeds, fixing a broken computer, cooking from scratch, candle making, non-electric lighting, dieting, and even some of those motivational subjects I am so fond of reading.  Of course there are novels and lots of them.

I also propose that the library have a wide selection of board games and puzzles that can be checked out and rotated among members.

The Town Librarian

From your comments and emails, I know that many members of the Backdoor Survival family are concerned that due to age, health, or financial reasons, they may not be welcomed into a survival community if and when the stuff hits the fan.

Of course that is silly.  You have skills.  You can cook, clean, teach, sew, entertain, read aloud and do so many other things that do not require a strong back, good health, or lots of consumable goods.

You can also become the town librarian!

The town librarian can organize the books, help other community members find the information they seek, read aloud to children, and even become an organizer of community events.  To tell the truth, the town librarian may become the most popular member of the community other than the cook.

Additional Reading:  46 Pioneer Skills for the Modern Homesteader

The Final Word

When I look out at my tiny back yard that only gets three hours of sun daily, I know for a fact that I will be unable to grow my own food. But I can do other things, including becoming the town librarian.  In doing so, I would have the best, if not the most fun job in the community!

Seriously, if you have old books that are out of date and gathering dust in your garage, basement or attic, think again before throwing them out.  This is especially true if you have technical manuals that describe how to do things.  Can you imagine how useful an old manual on basic electronics or gas engines will be in a long term grid down situation such as after an EMP?  And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

If you frequent garage sales, flea markets of thrift stores and see a box of old reference books or technical materials from times gone by, do not pass them up.  Also be on the lookout for copies of Mother Earth News, Popular Mechanics and similar DIY magazines.  Chances are you can pick them up for mere pennies.  If and when the dreaded SHTF occurs, they will be priceless.

In closing, I would love to hear your thoughts on other roles that will be useful in a survival community.  What role would you like to play?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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I have been compiling a list of my favorite preps.  The following items made the cut and all would be beneficial in a survival community.  As you know, I do not promote anything that I do not own and believe in.

Encyclopedia of Country Living: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself:  I have the ebook version but after writing this article, I realize that I also need the print version.  Ordered today! This is the bestselling resource for modern homesteading, growing and preserving foods, and raising chickens, It includes chapters on how to cultivate a garden, buy land, bake bread, raise farm animals, make sausage, can peaches, milk a goat, grow herbs, churn butter, build a chicken coop, catch a pig, cook on a wood stove, and much, much more. This comprehensive resource is the most authoritative guide available to a sustainable lifestyle and living off of the land.

DryTec Calcium Hypochlorite, 1-Pound:  This is 68% Calcium Hypochlorite.  As of this writing, the price is with free shipping.  I purchased Ultima Pool Shock which is 73% Calcium Hypochlorite.  For more information, read How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water.

Berkey Water Filter System:  For in home use, nothing beats the Berkey. My own Royal Berkey represents a key component of my water preps.   The Berkey system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove red food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Virtually no other system can duplicate this performance.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way: This book teaches how to deal with all the likely medical issues you will face in a disaster situation, including strategies to keep your family healthy even in the worse scenarios. It covers skills such as performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library.

Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards:  This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out.  Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness kit.

Baofeng or Pofung UV-5R Ham Two Way Radio: The Pofung (formerly Baofeng) UV-5R is a compact hand held transceiver providing 4 watts in the frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz It is a compact, economical HT that includes a special VHF receive band from 65 – 108 MHz which includes the regular FM broadcast band. Dual watch and dual reception is supported.

Here is the antenna I ordered along with the programming cable: NAGOYA Antenna for BAOFENG UV-5R and USB Programming Cable for Baofeng UV-5R UV-3R+.  Need help with setup?  Read How to Set-Up and Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy.

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is a solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: This light is awesome. I use mine downstairs as well as on my stairway and when I get up in the middle of the night, they come on automatically. They are quite unobtrusive and give off a ton of light.  Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries. As of this writing,  free Prime Shipping.


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16 Responses to “Every Survival Community Needs a Town Library”

  1. As for what role, I’d have to spend a lot of time w/ my family getting our garden up to speed, for enough to feed us, & perhaps helping them adjust to post disaster/grid down. I am a pastor now, & would like to be one in a post disaster situation, & took a little training in spiritual care in post disaster, & want to take more. Perhaps get trained as a Red Cross chaplain. However, I doubt that a church would be able to pay a pastor, & it’d maybe be like in the 1800s & rural early 1900s, when pastors were paid w/ veggies from the garden or seeds or something practical like a chicken or eggs. But it’d be a big struggle to survive on such donations when everyone else is struggling to feed their families & survive. Also, ppl in need after a disaster have become accustomed to govt agencies & Red Cross-like organizations coming & giving food, temporary housing, utility help, first aid, etc. & after a grid down or other major disaster when govt & Red Cross are not able to help, why would a local pastor think that ppl would be willing to trade anything for any help? At most, I could offer a prayer & word of encouragement. Now, I plan to do what I can & meet needs that I can, but I’m not apologizing for putting my family’s needs first. I’d encourage other believers here to collect any Bible study materials on living w/ stress, living in need, disasters in Scripture, etc, b/c ur pastor will be able to use them post-disaster. Most pastors are not preppers.

  2. I’ve been gradually collecting a prepper library since I became a prepper. I have about 35 kindle books, 70 paper books, & hundreds of articles printed & filed by topic, & even more articles on 2 computers. I also have the means to recharge my kindle & laptop. I’ve done this mostly b/c I love to read & there’s no way one could remember everything related to survivalism. Recently, however, I’ve realized that my collection is enough for a family group or other prepper group, & see it a resource for such a group. & I have 100s of non-prepper books too.
    However, as for being a librarian, I’m not sure that schools or local govt’s will have funds to pay a librarian after grid-down. & I can’t see ppl contributing some 22 ammo, or seeds, or food to a librarian as a donation, given most ppl will be struggling to survive. & who’s going to have time to volunteer, since all of us will be working much harder just to survive.

  3. I’ve never seen a book or tool I didn’t want. Another good thing about books , thieves won’t break into your house to get them.

  4. What I hate is every time someone has a manual or book it is not available as a paperback or hardcover I don’t have an “e ” reader so I can’t get the books

  5. You have given me a great idea. We have a small cottage on our property that we used to rent out until the last tenants practically destroyed it. We closed it up about 8 or 9 years ago and there it sits. It will take some capital to get it back to livable standards and we have been reluctant to spend the money because really, we don’t want to rent it out ever again. But…. what a wonderful resource place it could become. Library books, clinic (although I would keep medical supplies with me until needed at the clinic), classroom, staging area etc. I’ll be putting some plans in motion soon. Thanks.

    • F-woman, what u’re describing -library, clinic, classroom, staging area, etc -sounds kinda like a sm town community center, & to some extent, like the community center in the small town we used to live in. It’d be a great resource, unless it attracted thieves & desperate ppl in grid down.

  6. Don’t forget about text books like Grey’s Anatomy, Physics, Chemistry and a PDR. Could be helpful in dispensing meds.

  7. If you’re lucky to have a County Library system, they usually can get books/movies from the other branches free of charge. You might have to wait a bit to get the book or movie you want. We had a flood a few years ago in the basement due to the sump breaking , while we were at work no less. We lost a lot of books and other stuff that couldn’t be salvaged. I think I was silently crying the whole time we were going to the recycle/dump to get rid of the books that were ruined. A lot can’t be replaced without a large cost. You might be able to access some of the Universities web sites and seeing if they have scanned older, out of print books as part of an on-line reference library. I think one is U-Conn and I believe the University of Michigan is doing that as well. I think it not just reference books but regular books and magazines, like Popular Mechanics etc. they are scanning.

  8. “Every Survival Community Needs a Town Librarian” is a great article simply because I think that every reading person on GOD’s great earth has thought somewhere deep in their brain, “I would love to be a librarian just so I can be around books all day long”. The only reason I cannot be a librarian is because I would want to read every book in the library.

  9. On the Tote-able Toilet, yes, add some TP. I put my TP in a vacuum bag. 2 rolls shrink to the size of 1. And you know what they say about TP, 100 is some, 99 are none.

  10. There is something about a library! The smell, the lingering over titles, the soothing quite and the feel of a book. I’ve always loved to read and at ten had a lending library out of my bedroom for friends and family–nerd that I am, it was authentic down to the dewy decimal system. My first job was for a tri-county library system and I loved it more than any other job I’d had as an adult. I for one would hate to see a day when libraries no longer existed.

    • Yes, Jo I agree with you whole heartedly. There was a four state brown out because of a small electrical problem (maybe a tree falling on a transformer) and they all knew that it would be back on line shortly. Today we hear EMP attack with no guarantees of back on line. This is the reason that books are still very important. All that electronic word convenience has a price to be paid and it will show it’s ugly head when SHTF is staring at us in the face.

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