Acknowledging the varying resources and structures of individual libraries, NHLA recommends that library trustees and directors consider the following prior to reopening any services that take place at physical library buildings:
Trustees and library administrators should have detailed phased plans with clear metrics for reopening and the ability to adapt as the situation has great potential to shift.
Consultation with local public health officials, emergency management teams, and legal counsel should occur before any phased reopening plan is approved by a library’s governing body.
Libraries should have safe workplace protocols in place including access to Environmental Protection Agency recommended cleaning supplies, appropriate protective equipment, plans for keeping staff and patron contact minimal, ongoing and thorough training available to staff, and a clear supply chain identified to restock necessary supplies and equipment. The ability of libraries to reopen to patrons is contingent upon the good health of library workers, and the protection of both workers and patrons should be at the forefront of these plans.
As policies and procedures develop we urge our libraries to uphold patrons’ rights to privacy with discrimination toward none.
As physical distancing and specific group size numbers for in-person gatherings may be recommended for an unknown period of time, fair and equitable alternative work policies should be created allowing as much flexibility as possible.
As librarians, we realize that many factors go into decision making at the local level. Continued sharing of ideas and reliable resources will help our governing bodies to develop and implement evidence-based phased reopening plans.
We recommend looking for guidance from the following sources:
IMLS/OCLC/Battelle partnership website (regarding safe materials handling for libraries and museums – data not yet released but will be Summer 2020)
It is with awe and respect that we recognize the work and considerations that the NH library community has brought to the needs of the citizens of their towns and cities as we work together to forge this new way of providing services to our communities. As New Hampshire Libraries develop plans to open more in person services and bring more library staff back into buildings, the New Hampshire Library Association expresses our appreciation for the work of NH library trustees, town and city governments, the NH State Library, various state committees and our indefatigable library workers for their care and efforts during this unprecedented time.