This past week was National Library Week, and April 21st was National Library Workers Day. It was very odd to be home during this time especially. Normally at work we are celebrating all week, specifically all the valuable contributions of library workers, and doing fun things but of course we can’t do that in person this year.
More Digital Services Than Ever Before
Libraries have been hit especially hard by the pandemic and I know that many of my colleagues are trying to find ways to provide virtual programs and resources online. In my case, we’ve taken all of our workshops and webinars online for the students, but as you can imagine, doing it online versus in person just isn’t the same.
Still, I’m so proud of the way many library systems across the country have taken everything in stride and managed to thrive despite the obstacles being thrown in our way. It is truly inspiring! Be sure to go show your local libraries some love by taking advantage of all the digital resources they provide! I personally love to check out e-books and magazines but there is so much more being offered, you’d be surprised 🙂
When Will Libraries Re-Open? (Now is Not the Time)
With that being said, since libraries are in the spotlight this week, I wanted to add my voice to those expressing doubts about libraries, or any public services, re-opening before it is safe. I wanted to share this article, “Why You Shouldn’t Do Curbside During Covid-19” written by Katelyn Attanasio for Library Journal which details why it is not safe for libraries to begin doing curbside pickups. Surprisingly, a lot of libraries will be doing this as soon as next week. I understand that people may want to start returning materials and picking up items being held (not that I am in that camp, even remotely) but it simply isn’t safe.
The main reason? Not enough time has passed for any research to be done as to whether or not this is safe for patrons or library workers. For example: We don’t know how long the virus can live on paper, so what is the process for disinfecting materials going to look like?
So far the consensus among library workers seems to be that we will put materials in trash bags for seventy-two hours and hope that does the trick. Seriously. The worst part is that every library is likely going to approach this process differently, which is not good. It’s putting library workers and patrons at risk unnecessarily. The risk is not worth the reward, as Attanasio points out in her article.
I’m really glad that this piece was published and I hope that those in positions of power might take it into consideration when deciding when to re-open their libraries. I would urge anyone considering visiting their libraries for curbside pickup to be extremely cautious about making that decision. You truly never know who you are putting at risk if you happen to have the virus, are asymptomatic, but pass it along to someone more vulnerable than you are. Again, the risk is not worth the reward.
This post was inspired by the many conversations surrounding this that I have been following all week, both on Twitter and other social media. As I read everyone thoughts, I just couldn’t help but feel like I needed to say something, too. I think it’s important to talk about this in whatever ways that we see fit, especially now during National Library Week, which is why I wanted to include the discussion here.