Santa Cruz County History - Disasters & Calamities



The Loma Prieta Earthquake & The Santa Cruz Public Libraries

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit at 5:04 p.m. on October 17, 1989 and lasted 15 seconds. A 5.2 aftershock occurred 40 minutes later with 45 more serious aftershocks on through that terrible night. More Facts and Statistics.

The ten Branches of the Santa Cruz City County Library System did fairly well in the big shake. We had roof damage at our Aptos Branch, we lost most of the shelving on the second floor of the Downtown Branch, and we estimate that System-wide about three quarters of our collections ended up on the floor. But as everyone was quick to agree, we were alive and none of our patrons was injured.

Earthquake damage at the Downtown Branch
Earthquake damage at the Downtown Branch
Earthquake damage
at the Downtown Branch
Photo credit: Donna Swedberg

The Library System served the community during the emergency as it always had. Staff answered phones, kept up to date on services and practical information, and performed tasks in other agencies. Still more staff were busy putting branches back together again. As a loved institution in the community, getting the libraries open and operational was a powerful symbol of life beginning to get back to normal.

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earthquakes, libraries, Loma Prieta earthquake

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