Librarians from San Francisco Public Library working at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.

Other (Pandemic) Duties as Assigned

April 24, 2020

Of course, being asked to take on tasks that fall outside their traditional job description is nothing new for librarians. But the unprecedented, widespread closure of libraries has made conditions especially ripe for staff redeployment—particularly since many localities consider librarians “city workers.” “All city and county employees, per our contract, work as disaster service workers … Continue reading Other (Pandemic) Duties as Assigned


Woman wearing a face mask with a laptop

Reopening: Not “When?” But “How?”

April 17, 2020

Once reopened, most will likely continue to support social-distancing measures through such steps as rearranging furniture, cleaning computers between uses, disinfecting books and other materials, and—as the Radnor Memorial Library in Wayne, Pennsylvania, is considering—perhaps providing special hours for at-risk populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised. “Public and staff safety will always be my … Continue reading Reopening: Not “When?” But “How?”


PLA survey

How Public Libraries Are Responding to the Pandemic

April 9, 2020

For instance, most respondents (98%) reported their buildings were closed to the public but, in many cases, staff continued to expand access to digital resources, launch virtual programs, and coordinate services with local government agencies. The survey, conducted by PLA between March 24 and April 1, found that libraries are rapidly adapting services. A substantial majority … Continue reading How Public Libraries Are Responding to the Pandemic


Stacey Abrams Photo: Gerri Hernández

Newsmaker: Stacey Abrams

March 31, 2020

The spread of COVID-19 has ramped up significantly in recent weeks, and 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 … Continue reading Newsmaker: Stacey Abrams


Census 2020 paperwork

The 2020 Census and COVID-19

March 24, 2020

The Census Bureau shared its tool for daily updates on response rates, as well as recent updates to census operations and timelines. Changes to 2020 Census operations 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, which includes: … Continue reading The 2020 Census and COVID-19


Tom Green County Library System in San Angelo, Texas, is closed to walk-ins but offering curbside checkout services, as explained by this image from their website.

Staying Open during COVID-19

March 23, 2020

But as of Monday, March 23, a handful of public and academic libraries were still serving patrons in person. “[Southeastern Idaho] Public Health said that we should maintain services, and they’re the experts, right?” says Robert Wright, director of Idaho Falls (Idaho) Public Library (IFPL), which has canceled all programming but remains open for the … Continue reading Staying Open during COVID-19


Photo: Silhouette of man with backpack against sunset

Serving Homeless Patrons in the COVID-19 Shutdown

March 18, 2020

Originally published at Programming Librarian, March 17, 2020.  It may not be possible to offer in-person services for patrons experiencing homelessness during a shutdown, but libraries can help by making information more accessible. Stevie Pinkerton, a homeless man living in Denver, said he relies on bathrooms at Denver Public Library’s Central branch and the local rec … Continue reading Serving Homeless Patrons in the COVID-19 Shutdown




Special Report: 2020 Census Illustration: Kristen Solecki

Special Report: 2020 Census

March 2, 2020

What’s more, there may be confusion about this year’s count, which formally kicks off April 1. For the first time, the form can now be filled out online (as well as via mail and phone), and a hotly contested addition to the form—a citizenship question—was struck down by the US Supreme Court last summer (though … Continue reading Special Report: 2020 Census


Spanish-language census marketing materials used by Waukegan (Ill.) Public Library. Photo: Waukegan (Ill.) Public Library

Reaching the Hard to Count

March 2, 2020

“I was sent one of those letters,” says Rhonda Sewell, manager of external and governmental affairs for Toledo–Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL). “What’s at stake [in Ohio] is over $1,800 per person.” Sewell and others who joined the CCC decided that, to not lose federal funds, Toledo and Lucas County needed to hire a census … Continue reading Reaching the Hard to Count


Graphic: Plug into the Census

Plug into the Census

March 2, 2020

Citywide collaboration in Baltimore Baltimore received a $250,000 grant from the state of Maryland to support census outreach efforts, led by the Baltimore Complete Count Committee (BCCC). The committee has worked closely with local libraries to implement a plan for “bringing the census to the people,” says Austin C. Davis, census project manager for the … Continue reading Plug into the Census