How COVID-19 is Affecting Our Libraries
Libraries across the United States are looking for new and better ways to provide services to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While adapting to change is nothing new to libraries, the coronavirus has created new challenges for them. In March, the American Library Association (ALA) recommended closing public libraries to prevent the spread of the virus and to promote social distancing.
“It is very difficult for us to put forward this recommendation,” ALA deputy director Macey Morales said. “Libraries pride themselves on being there during critical times for our communities.”
Since then, librarians and other staff have brainstormed creative ways to provide books and other reference materials to their patrons. For example, in Casper, Wyoming, the Natrona County Library gifted 5,400 books to homebound students and senior citizens, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
The Wyoming library also continues to provide digital reading materials and access for all patrons. All libraries should maintain public-access WiFi for those nearby, the ALA said. This is especially important for individuals who may not have home internet access.
“Libraries can and should leave their WiFi networks on even when their buildings are closed whenever possible,” ALA director Stephanie Hlywak said. “In these unprecedented times, we should take whatever steps we can to leverage our resources to maximize benefit to our communities—particularly for those with the fewest resources.”