On April 21, in honor of National Library Workers Day, a celebration during National Library Week, the American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board issued the following statement:
The American Library Association stands in solidarity with and support of library workers. As we said last month when we recommended and urged all libraries to close to the public, “The health of our library workers and the communities we serve is of utmost and equal importance.”
Since that time, we have been buoyed by the resilience and innovation our profession has demonstrated in unprecedented circumstances. We know that while library buildings may be physically closed, librarians and library workers are busier than ever continuing to safely deliver vital services to their communities, such as digital access, resource guides, research inquiry responses, online instruction to learners, teacher and faculty support, virtual storytimes, and other content, including ebooks, movies, music, videogames, and virtual programs and events.
Each of these services takes effort, care, and thought to be uniquely attuned to the needs of each local community, and we applaud the library workers who have stepped up to address needs. We celebrate those who have turned on their Wi-Fi signals to supply internet access at a safe physical distance in library parking lots, partnered with local health organizations to print 3D face shields, supported teachers transitioning to distance learning, transformed bookmobiles into emergency food banks, and safely delivered so many other instances of outstanding public service.
National Library Workers Day is an occasion to both praise their work and advocate for their continued safety. Library staff should not be asked to do nonessential work in closed library buildings and should be permitted to work remotely where feasible. In alignment with our companion organization, the ALA–Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), we advocate that library workers are paid fully during this time and continue to receive benefits such as health insurance. In municipalities where budgets are being slashed and library workers are being furloughed or laid off, ALA strongly urges the federal government to step in and provide relief for the second responders who are getting communities through this crisis and will enable our nation’s workforce to get back on its feet during the recovery.
Libraries and library workers have vital roles to play during and after the pandemic. We remain committed to supporting them during this challenging time.