Published 3/20/20 6:30 PM CT
Library Directors and Staff,
In light of Governor Pritzker's stay-at-home order, Illinois Heartland Library System urges all public libraries to comply with the statewide effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by closing to the public during the period of March 21 to April 7, 2020. Previously identified as a best practice and recommended by the Illinois Library Association and American Library Association, compliance with the stay-at-home order also protects library staff and their families, some who have—or care for family members who have—challenged immune systems. Over 93% of IHLS public libraries surveyed have already closed, as have many, many RAILS libraries. Today, the mayor of Chicago announced that Chicago Public Library would also be closing all their branches. IHLS staff will also be working remotely and delivery will be suspended through at least April 7.
Additionally, we strongly encourage libraries to provide employee compensation at regular levels. As community leaders, libraries set a positive example when they elect to compensate library staff at normal levels during the pandemic. This supports local economies during a challenging time, provides the necessary income to households who may have lost income from other family members who work in other industries, and generates goodwill among staff and the library community at large. In a survey conducted by IHLS before Gov. Pritzker's statements today, nearly 90% of respondents said their libraries will be paying staff for time not worked.
We understand that asking public libraries to close and asking staff to stay at home can prove a hardship for community members. In an effort to provide a small relief, we encourage libraries to publicize their e-resources and, when financially possible, consider increasing e-resource availability. Some publishers and e-resource providers are providing libraries help, such as allowing storytimes to be live-streamed. TumbleBooks is providing additional access to e-books. Some internet service providers are providing students or households without internet access with wireless hotspots and 60 days of free internet access. IHLS will be posting details to these and other resources on our COVID-19 webpage as details become available.
In the coming days, please keep in touch with us and with each other. Let us know how IHLS can help libraries such as yours during this trying time, and reach out to your staff and colleagues to support each other. Take care of each other, and take care of yourselves.
Leslie Bednar, IHLS Executive Director
Leslie M. Bednar
Illinois Heartland Library System
Imagining Tomorrow—Delivering Possibilities Today!
3/23/20 edit: changed "Shelter-at-Home to Stay-at-Home"