United for Libraries is working to support library boards of trustees,Friends groups, and foundations during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this initiative, the division is currently making its online discussion forums accessible to non-members through June 30. Its four online discussion forums allow trustees, Friends, statewide Friends groups, foundation staff/board members, and library employees who work with them to share tips, ask questions, and get advice. To join, visit the United for Libraries website.
ALA announced March 25 the names of eight LIS professionals selected to participate in the 2020 ALA Policy Corps, which aims to develop a cadre of experts with deep and sustained knowledge of national public policies in areas key to ALA’s strategic goals. The corps’ goals include developing policy experts available to the library community and creating longevity in expertise and engagement for early to mid-career professionals. The new cohort is made up of Sara Benson, Sonya Durney, Sonnet Ireland, Amanda Kordeliski, Erin MacFarlane, Nikki Scarpitti, Valerie Tagoe, and Timothy Vollmer.
The ALA Executive Board announced March 24 that the 2020 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition scheduled for June 25–30 in Chicago has been canceled. “ALA’s priority is the health and safety of the library community, including our members, staff, supporters, vendors, and volunteers,” said ALA President Wanda K. Brown. “As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, it’s become clear that in the face of an unprecedented situation, we need to make tough choices.” 2020 will mark the first time in 75 years that ALA has not held an Annual Conference. The last cancellation took place in 1945 toward the end of World War II.
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table selected Henry Reichman to receive it 2020 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award, which recognizes the best published work in the area of intellectual freedom, for his book The Future of Academic Freedom,published in 2019 by Johns Hopkins University Press. Reichman is professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay. His book equips readers to defend academic freedom by illuminating its meaning, the challenges it faces, and its relation to freedom of expression.
In response to queries by schools and libraries, the FCC has confirmed that schools and libraries can open up their Wi-Fi networks to the public during the coronavirus pandemic without losing E-Rate funding. The agency said it was up to those individual institutions to establish use policies for those Wi-Fi services, including hours of use, but advised them to follow health and safety guidelines on social distancing.
Carl Zimmer writes: “In January, Chinese virologists isolated the virus that causes COVID-19. Earlier this month, a team of virologists gave this new virus a new name: SARS-CoV-2. To do so, they had to move the virus to the head of a very, very long line. In recent years, virologists look for bits of genetic material in samples—water, mud, blood—and use sophisticated computer programs to recognize viral genes. Matthew Sullivan, a virologist at Ohio State University, has used this method to search for viruses that infect life in the ocean. In 2016 alone, Sullivan and his colleagues reported over 15,000 viruses, each representing a new species.”
Larra Clark writes: “Mailings and self-response for the 2020 Census have begun. As of March 23, 21% of US householdshave responded. To assist libraries impacted by COVID-19, ALA convened a call with its census task force members, Library Census Equity Fund grantees, and US Census Bureau staff. On March 20, the Census Bureau announced it was adapting or delaying some operations to protect the health and safety of staff members and the public. It still intends to deliver apportionment counts to President Trump by December 31, but additional changes are possible as the bureau monitors the COVID-19 situation.”
Daniella Smith writes: “We are currently readjusting our daily behaviors to save lives through social distancing, working online, and the closing of many schools. As we contemplate our next moves, we know that it is essential for our youth to keep learning. I regard reading as a foundational subject. I wanted to share a few websites that elementary students can use for reading books. Many students do not have access to the internet. However, those that do may find these resources helpful.”
Sarah Ostman writes: “As your library moves many of its services online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, you may be wondering about the legality of posting recorded storytimes to your Facebook or YouTube page. The answer lies in ‘fair use.’ What does fair use allow for when it comes to online storytime, and how has the pandemic changed what is allowable? We spoke with Carrie Russell, copyright specialist in ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office, to understand the finer points.”
The Internet Archive is suspending waitlists for the 1.4 million books in its lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30 or until the end of the pandemic in the US. People who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis. This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries.
The US Supreme Court ruled that copyright owners can’t sue for damages when a state government uses their work, ruling against businesses in a case stemming from the wreckage of the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship. The justices on March 23 unanimously said states are protected by sovereign immunity. The court threw out a 1990 federal law that attempted to authorize lawsuits, ruling that the measure went beyond the constitutional authority of Congress. Justice Elena Kagan said the court was bound by a 1990 ruling that precluded lawsuits seeking patent damages from states.
The IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section is working with the Australian Library and Information Association to create translated signage and text for libraries to communicate with their communities about library closures and changes to programs. Freely downloadable in 30 languages (and counting), you are welcome to share, edit, and adapt this content to your own library’s needs. ALIA is still seeking assistance for translations to other languages, particularly Punjabi or Karen. If you can help with these or other languages that are not yet translated, then please contact ALIA directly at email@example.com.