|Weekly News Digest
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COVID-19 NEWS: 'Libraries Are Needed More Than Ever. But Many Aren't Sure How to Reopen …'
Kameel Stanley writes the following for USA TODAY:
Just 37% of libraries plan to reopen by July, according to a recently released survey from the American Library Association. Nearly half of the nation’s libraries—47%—do not have plans to reopen their doors to the public anytime soon, according to the association, which surveyed 3,800 libraries from all 50 states in May.
Librarians and library patrons say it is an especially difficult time for libraries to be closed, with many school systems closed to students who might not have internet access at home and more than 44.2 million Americans filing jobless claims, many of whom would normally be able to seek assistance at their local library branch.
‘We all think of nurses and doctors as the first responders during the pandemic. And I would say that that’s absolutely true. They are the first responders—on health,’ said Susan Benton, head of the research-focused Urban Libraries Council. ‘Public libraries are the first responders on the recovery.’ …
The first phase is likely to be a restart of book lending that’s curbside or contactless. Next, there could be limited in-person browsing and building visits. Third, there will likely be more open access to visit, meet and congregate within buildings.
Most libraries say they’re planning to step up cleaning and require masks by staff and the public.
‘I won’t pretend that we aren’t apprehensive about aspects of this. We are. But we have to bear in mind how much the library means to a number of people,’ said Waller McGuire, CEO of St. Louis City Public Library. ‘I know that we’re not a hospital and we’re not a grocery, but we’re a vital service.’ …
By the middle of June, five of the St. Louis’ libraries will open portions of their buildings for limited browsing. Less than 20 people will be allowed inside at one time, and there will be a 15-minute limit.
‘I know that everyone is anxious to return to a familiar, comfortable world, but we’re just not there yet,’ McGuire said.
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