|Weekly News Digest
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'Where Are We: The Latest on Library Reopening Strategies' by Erica Freudenberger
Erica Freudenberger writes the following for Library Journal:
As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the country (and around the world), public libraries are continually recalibrating and reinventing services, plans, and procedures to keep up with a roiling landscape. The pandemic has brought inequities—systemic racism, economic and food insecurity, mental and physical health issues, and digital equity disparities—into sharp focus. Public libraries have been on the front lines, negotiating how to address those ever more urgent issues and provide essential community services while keeping staff and the community healthy. …
The pandemic has created an endless loop of ambiguity, where planning is often derailed as the coronavirus surges, mutates, and continues to spread. Kim Porter, director of Indiana’s Batesville Memorial Public Library, made the shift from reactive to proactive planning. Instead of thinking long-term, she focuses on ‘taking the next right step.’ …
Shifts in service have required additional or reallocated resources, even as city and county budgets face dropping property tax revenues and strain to cover testing, treatment, mitigation for schools, and help for the many suddenly unemployed residents. Many libraries have had to lay off or furlough employees; often the first to be impacted are part-time staff and pages, and others have seen a reduction in benefits. …
Some of the changes, like curbside service, virtual programs, and an increase in digital resources interest, will be with us long-term. These new models include not only patron-facing services, but changes to library infrastructure.
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