Continuing to Help: Library Services During a Pandemic

Continuing to Help: Library Services During a Pandemic by Anna Yackle - image of a person taking a book from a bookshelf

By Anna Yackle, IHLS Membership Coordinator​
Posted 3/26/20 12:31 PM CT

Libraries are trusted institutions and sources of entertainment, learning, and help. Staff members pride themselves in knowing and serving their community. During this time of being ordered to “shelter in place,” how do libraries and staff continue to offer services and assistance to their users?

One way is to share resources that can entertain and inform your community via your website or Facebook account. While not everyone has a home computer, laptop, or internet, many do have phones that can access your sites.

Link to lists of resources for adults and children created by Illinois Heartland Library System staff (such as this list), the list of educational resources created by the youth services librarian from the Mahomet Public Library, and other library institutions.

Post links to reputable sources for updated information on the virus and steps being implemented to contain it. Sites to consider are:

Sheltering in place can be stressful, especially if you have lost your job and are not being paid. Provide links to local food pantries and social services including the following:

Schedule online storytimes, virtual watch parties, and online meet-ups. Develop blogs and podcasts to do book talks or discuss local history. Create a curated online community space where people can post pictures, share their experiences and observations, and post requests for assistance.

Consider ways to reach people who do not use or have access to online resources. Fill plastic baggies with take-away craft projects, coloring sheets, and crossword and sudoku puzzles. Ask community partners such as doctors' offices, restaurants, and grocery and drug stores to help you distribute them. Develop self-guided walking tours of your community. Place used or unwanted books in Little Free Libraries or other places people may access.

Next, use this time to improve your skills to be prepared for when your library reopens. IHLS staff will be creating a list to serve as a starting point for free online learning activities.

Finally, stay healthy, keep your spirits up, and build small rewards into your day. Practice self-care. If you need help thinking of ways to do this, check out these three articles:

 It is important to be healthy and happy when our libraries’ doors open again.