With everyone forced to bear with the stay-at-home mandate, the Children’s Place at the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green, Ohio, is helping to promote a way to ease the isolation, especially for children. Taking inspiration from the classic picture book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, the library is urging people to put toy bears in their windows, and if they don’t have one, a picture of a bear. The library has provided one to print out or copy to color. Children out for walks can spy them in the windows. The library’s bears hold hearts that contain the outline of the State of Ohio and then another heart marking the location of Wood County.
Jessica Leigh Hester writes: “If time at home has you missing life in the stacks or sifting through old papers in search of pieces of the past, fear not: You can do the same thing online. Slews of institutions are in the market for armchair archivists—volunteers who can generate knowledge by clicking through digitized resources, deciphering handwriting, or tagging photos. Several institutions have already seen an uptick in digital detective work since the start of the pandemic. Here are a few projects you might consider.”
Kathi Kromer writes: “Libraries were included in the largest economic stimulus package in history, which passed March 27. The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital inclusion projects and more than $30 billion in relief for schools and colleges, plus billions more for state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. The stimulus package also includes libraries—on Main Street, in schools, and on campuses—as part of a massive, long-overdue effort to ensure digital equity in America. Read a summary of CARES Act provisions for libraries, education, and cultural heritage institutions.”
Timothy Inklebarger writes: “Shortages of surgical masks, N95 respirator masks, safety goggles, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) have created a desperate need among health care workers as the pandemic escalates. Archivists and conservators from university libraries across the country have been pitching in to help bridge the supply gap, donating their supplies of the PPE. Through networking with local health care providers, libraries are getting lifesaving supplies where they’re needed most. Eric Alstrom, head of conservation and preservation at Michigan State University Libraries, says that he first heard about libraries making donations on an ALA listserv for preservation administrators.”
Lara Ewen writes: “Keeping libraries safe is important for both workers and guests. But during the current COVID-19 pandemic, questions about how to do that—particularly when it comes to materials and surfaces—have complicated answers. It’s an unprecedented situation. Conservators, who are experienced in diagnosing and repairing collection damage, say that historical information on sanitizing library materials is lacking. Despite anecdotal evidence in a 2019 article in Smithsonian Magazine,Evan Knight, preservation specialist at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, says there’s very little historical data available. ’[There’s] nothing published or shared from previous epidemics,’ he says.”
Leanne Ellis writes: “The best response of a capable educator is to focus on student learning no matter what. While some educators lament the influx of emails, technology directives, and response time to take students online, others take on the challenge of learning the best practices and tools for teaching students in a virtual environment. None of this work is easy. Switching instruction from in-person to Google Classroom, for example, involves thought and preparation: how to manage student accounts and work, design lessons, post content, communicate, guide discussions and responses, give useful feedback, and grade work. And that’s just for one class. Here are some pointers to keep in mind.”
Kate Conger and Erin Griffith write: “As life has increasingly moved online during the pandemic, an older generation that grew up in an analog era is facing a digital divide. Often unfamiliar or uncomfortable with apps, gadgets, and the internet, many are struggling to keep up with friends and family through digital tools when some of them are craving those connections the most. According to a 2017 Pew Research study, three-quarters of those older than 65 said they needed someone else to set up their electronic devices. A third also said they were only a little or not at all confident in their ability to use electronics and to navigate the web. Families are finding new apps and gadgets that are easy for older relatives to use.”
Alex Harrington writes: “Most academic library employees across the country have been working from home for the better part of two weeks now. What about our part-timers and student workers? In my library, I have two dozen part-time employees whose assigned job is exclusively working at the service desk when the rest of the staff has gone home for the evening or weekend. This is not work that can be done from home, or when the physical space of the library is not in use—checking items in or out, providing basic computer assistance to users, and counting the cash drawer. So what can they do?”
Laura Dattaro writes: “As the pandemic disrupts the work of researchers around the world, academic journals are adjusting their expectations for what and how they publish. Some editors expect an initial ‘boom’ in papers as scientists newly blocked from entering their labs find themselves with more time to write, edit, and respond to reviews—followed by a longer-term slowdown in work. Many scientists who serve as editors and reviewers are managing their own affected labs while tackling demands at home. For papers on coronavirus, PNAS has waived the fee normally required to make a paper open access upon publication. It has also created a prominent collection to disseminate information relevant to the pandemic.”
Cochrane Library offers two evidence-based special collections on COVID-19: infection control and prevention, and evidence relevant to critical care. Developed in conjunction with the Cochrane community and based on World Health Organization interim guidance, these special collections assemble Cochrane Reviews in key topic areas relating to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. They will be updated in response to new information and include links to relevant Cochrane Clinical Answers—readable, clinically focused, actionable answers to inform point-of-care decision making for health professionals. The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases in healthcare provided by Cochrane and other organizations.
Michael Kan writes: “If your daily commute now consists of rolling out of bed and wandering to your desk, you’re likely logging fewer steps than you might on a regular day—and Fitbit has the data to prove it. The company has been studying how the ongoing pandemic has been affecting Fitbit users when millions of people are now staying at home to avoid contracting the illness. The results are not great. Last week, Fitbit saw year-over-year activity declines ranging from 7% to as much as 38%, depending on the country. Some of the biggest drops occurred in European countries hit hard by the coronavirus. Spain posted a 38% drop while Italy’s decline came in at 25%.”
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions is aggregating key resources on how libraries around the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. To be updated regularly, the list offers information on library closures, managing restrictions, staying safe, providing services remotely, communicating with users in different languages, and other ongoing issues. IFLA welcomes additional ideas, references, suggestions, and corrections submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.