Libraries rise to the challenge of maintaining services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photos: Nicole Johnson/Grand Rapids (Minn.) Area Library (drive-through); Robyn Huff (reopening); Pottsboro (Tex.) Area Library (e-sports); Tina Chenoweth (Animal Crossing)

Bookend: The New Normal

July 1, 2020

Some of our favorite examples of libraries meeting this challenge in creative ways, clockwise from top left: Michelle L. Johnson, cataloging technician at Grand Rapids (Minn.) Area Library, passes books through a drive-through window. The library averaged 50 pickups per day following the expiration of state stay-at-home orders May 18. Delray Beach (Fla.) Public Library … Continue reading Bookend: The New Normal


PLA Survey

ALA Survey Shows Effects of Pandemic on Library Services

June 3, 2020

A new American Library Association (ALA) survey of US libraries, “Libraries Respond: COVID-19 Survey,” documents a shift in services to support students, faculty, and communities at large during the crisis and phased preparations for the months ahead. While virtually all libraries (99%) report limited access to the physical building, survey respondents shared leaps in the … Continue reading ALA Survey Shows Effects of Pandemic on Library Services


Illustration: © Atstock Productions/Adobe Stock

Narcan or No?

June 1, 2020

The response might seem like an obvious “yes.” But for many public libraries the answer is more nuanced. In October 2018, Emergent BioSolutions, the company that manufactures the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan (generic name: naloxone), issued a press release offering two free doses of Narcan to every public library and YMCA in the US. … Continue reading Narcan or No?


Staffers at Chicago Ridge (Ill.) Public Library, which closed its doors March 16 because of COVID-19, advertise the library's remote-reference services in a group Zoom call.. Photo: Chicago Ridge (Ill.) Public Library

Bookend: Remote and Ready

June 1, 2020

Director Dana Wishnick’s first priority was setting up the phone system to forward calls to staffers working from home: “We have about 20% of our community that doesn’t have access to computers or internet connections, and we really wanted to be able to serve them during this time.” To let users know that staffers were … Continue reading Bookend: Remote and Ready


Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, Michigan, donated 100 3D-printed protective face shields to Beaumont Hospital in nearby Troy. Photo: Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, Michigan.

Using 3D to Make PPE

June 1, 2020

Jillian Rutledge, public services manager at Waterloo (Iowa) Public Library, learned about a PPE production initiative through a local branch of the national community revitalization project Main Street America. When her library closed its doors to patrons March 17, she obtained instructions online for printing PPE and tried various iterations before finding one that worked … Continue reading Using 3D to Make PPE



Stacey Abrams Photo: Gerri Hernández

Newsmaker: Stacey Abrams

June 1, 2020

COVID-19, social distancing, and self-quarantine have become facts of American life. Meanwhile, the US is conducting primary elections and the 2020 Census. How do you see these events being affected by the public health crisis? What can be done to encourage civic participation during a time of fear? We have to remember this isn’t the … Continue reading Newsmaker: Stacey Abrams


Librarian's Library by Anna Gooding-Call

Disasters in Libraries

June 1, 2020

Public Libraries and Resilient Cities Edited by Michael Dudley Resilience is the art of being able to bounce back from disaster. The uniting thesis of these essays is that public libraries are crucial to this process. Dudley makes the point that climate change guarantees near-future crises; other essays use relatively recent disasters, such as Hurricane … Continue reading Disasters in Libraries




The Silent Book Club at Newport (R.I.) Public Library offers teens a space for quiet reading after school. Photo: Newport (R.I.) Public Library

The Sound of Silence

May 1, 2020

“Our Silent Book Club has been a surprising success—surprising because if someone had told me a year ago that relaxing on comfortable beanbags and reading whatever books we want to read qualifies as an actual program, I would have yeeted that person straight out of the library,” says Wolfskehl, using the popular slang term for … Continue reading The Sound of Silence


The Mobile Law Network RV visits two St. Paul (Minn.) Public Library branches per month. Photo: Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Meeting Legal Needs

May 1, 2020

Aaron Mason, Cleveland Public Library’s (CPL) director of outreach and programming services, says that example from one of CPL’s monthly legal aid clinics shows how a number of libraries are filling a significant need in their communities by connecting patrons to civil legal aid. Civil legal matters encompass noncriminal issues such as health care, housing, … Continue reading Meeting Legal Needs