|Weekly News Digest
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COVID-19 NEWS: 'Libraries Get Creative About Reopening as Budget Cuts Loom'
Cailin Crowe writes the following for Smart Cities Dive:
The San Antonio Public Library is one of many U.S. libraries grappling with how to provide essential services—like computer and internet access—amid cities’ reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is being done through the implementation of new health and safety protocols; phasing the reopening of operations; sanitizing materials; deep cleaning interiors and requiring social distancing for patrons.
Libraries are also preparing to adjust budgets for what could be a dramatic reduction in funding in the next fiscal year. …
According to a May American [Library] Association survey, 62% of libraries are fully closed; 26% are open for curbside pickup; 11% have other limited access policies; and 1% are fully open. Thirty-seven percent of libraries said they anticipate reopening in June or July.
The most urgent needs among patrons for the next six months are anticipated to be access to physical materials (64%), public access to computers and the internet (60%), and job search and government application support (60%). …
Social distancing guidelines, however, have made it difficult for librarians to aid patrons who lack sufficient computer skills. The Morton-James Library in Nebraska City, NE, which has a budget of roughly $1 million, made its computers available at the onset of the pandemic. But the library decided to cancel the service after about a month as some patrons required assistance that would impede social distancing guidelines, library director Donna Kruse told Smart Cities Dive. …
The City of Dallas, which anticipates a $25 million budget gap, has already furloughed 187 of its 400 library employees. Meanwhile, the City of San Antonio, which is currently in the budget development process for the next fiscal year, anticipates its budget to fall by $200 million.
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