Tuesday, 21 April 2020
Public Libraries & the Corona Virus : A Response
Observe: The Problems
What do they, the public, want from us, their library, during the pandemic?
Primarily they will want access to the internet, information, a printer and a person to talk to. Particularly when an ISP fails in their area.
What can public libraries & librarians offer?
If delivered under medically agreed conditions, we can go some way to meet the demand for the access required. Volunteer librarians, with protection, can help the dialogue between state and individual, at a time of acute misinformation & mistrust.
Orient: The Situation
At their peak, a majority of the public used the library on a regular, monthly basis. Today a third use it annually. Libraries are no longer relevant to the majority of the country. Never less relevant than right now, in these interesting times. No-one will riot for libraries, like they will for food.
Decide: The Solution
Opening a limited number of public libraries over the duration of the lockdown will serve the public and the state. With clinical procedures in place, libraries can be a safe place for the public to connect. We do not want to martyr, if there is insufficient or insatiable need the program can be rescinded. We may not be deemed essential, we can certainly prove our value ready for a post-corona world
Act: The Coming Months
Some staff are unable to work under the required conditions, some will volunteer. Supported by NHS approved procedures and equipment (PPE, cleaning/disinfecting kits) with help, if necessary, from PCSOs. We can mitigate the spread of the virus whilst providing an invaluable service at a time of unprecedented need. Local & national government’s digital by default strategy encouraged uptake in the internet. The coming weeks will ‘make or break’ this strategy, we can help it make.