Update on COVID-19 and Michigan Libraries

March 17, 2020

Governor Whitmer released Executive Order 2020-9 which states that beginning on Monday, March 16 at 3pm, all Michigan libraries (public and academic) have been directed to close through March 30th. Her Executive Order 2020-5 included all K-12 schools inclusive of all school libraries through April 5th.

In addition, the American Library Association (ALA) has just released a statement urging our nation’s libraries to close and encouraging libraries to ensure that all library workers receive fully paid leave, including health coverage, while libraries are closed. Read the statement here.

MLA commends Governor Whitmer for her leadership and commitment to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in all libraries throughout Michigan. We are living in unprecedented times, and as we all know, each day, each minute, brings new information to light of this global health crisis. We must all do our part to help limit the spread of this virus.

We truly understand that Michigan patrons and students will miss access to our libraries, the heart of our communities and campuses, but we must change our day-to-day routines - as hard as that might be. Every citizen should be focused on the health of the entire community.

The Governor’s Executive Order does not prohibit an employee from entering, exiting, using or occupying the library in their professional capacity. It does however restrict the public from entering. With that being said, however, each library will need to make individual decisions about offering curbside pick-up and setting up guidelines for what they can offer while the doors are closed to the public. Restaurants are able to offer pick-up and delivery services; it would seem reasonable that libraries could do the same if they are appropriate and safe.

Even with the doors closed, there are a number of things that we’ve compiled that you can continue to offer and ways in which you can be a valuable community partner. As MLA’s President, Kristin Shelley, Director of the East Lansing Public Library said so eloquently, “These are new times folks, let some of the rules and barriers go.”

  • Keep wifi available or extend wifi hours while your building is closed so that access can still be available in parking lots, etc.

  • Websites should still be updated to point to current quality resources on COVID-19 – resources for general health, but now beginning to also include resources to support small business needing financial support and how to connect with resources for this, connect to national news that are offering free access to COVID-19 coverage such as the New York Times, etc.

  • If libraries are having staff come in, they can answer the phone and patron questions. This is not on the top of our minds when connectivity is available, but when it is not there is a renewed opportunity to assist community members so they can get to information to stay informed about the situation as well as local support resources in their communities.

  • Suspend holds while closed

  • Suspend fines and extend due dates while closed

  • Try virtual storytime or programs

  • Promote digital collections

  • Promote online library card registration and issuing cards completely online

And last but not least, we encourage all libraries to allow staff to work remotely. We also encourage libraries to ensure that all library workers receive fully paid leave, including health coverage, while libraries are closed. We know that you will take into consideration the hardship that will ensue for many library employees if they are not paid during this time. At this moment in time, we believe that the health and welfare of library staff should be our highest priority.

Within the next few days, MLA will be working in concert with ALA to deliver communications to you regarding asking our U.S. Congress to consider adding libraries to any and all COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief and economic stimulus legislation. Our nation’s museums and other nonprofits are using their collective voices to ask to be included. Libraries should be included as well. We hope that you will respond to our Call to Action in the near future.

In the coming days, we encourage you to seek accurate, reliable information about this public health crisis and work to help curtail its further spread. Please use effective preventive measures like washing your hands often with soap, staying home if sick and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.

We will continue to monitor the Governor’s mandates, ALA communications, and other reliable sources, and keep you attuned to any further directives that affect the good work that you all do.

Be safe, stay well.

MLA Board of Directors and Staff

News and Resources

Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-10 to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. This executive order is effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59pm. If you are laid off as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, you can apply for unemployment assistance online. Visit www.michigan.gov/UIA to file a claim. You will need your Social Security number, driver's license number, names and addresses of employers over the last 18 months, quarterly earnings, last day of employment at each place, employer's federal ID number and alien registration number if you aren't a U.S. citizen. Normally, you must register for work at Michigan Works! but this rule has been suspended to make it easier for those affected by the novel coronavirus to receive benefits. Read the press release here.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers current communication tools and resources available for use and distribution. Learn more and access resources here.

Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are offering low-cost internet service programs to ensure individuals and families stay connected to the internet. There are several websites that help connect users with low cost internet service. One service is EveryoneOn: https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers

Working from home? Check out these free resources from Linkedin Learning to set you up for success when working remotely.

Mental health resources to help with pandemic-related fears and anxiety:

The Library Journal article What Public Libraries Need To Know About the Coronavirus provides a list of websites and books and links to academic resources on the coronavirus.

A Guide to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) for Public Libraries from Bobbi Newman at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Greater Midwest Region lists news resources, maps and visualizations, and books.

Upcoming Webinar: Library 2.0 Special Webinar - “Librarians Respond to Coronavirus and Other Pandemics"

"Libraries and Pandemic Preparedness: Addressing COVID-19 with Facts and Outreach," American Libraries 3/5/2020

Governor Whitmer has issued Executive Order 2020-9 which closes places of public accommodation including all libraries. View Executive Order 2020-9.Read the press release.

The CDC released updated guidelines on Sunday, March 15, recommending events and gatherings of more than 50 people be cancelled or postponed for the next eight weeks. View the guidelines here.

Governor Whitmer Orders Temporary Prohibition on Large Assemblages and Events

Events and shared-space assemblages over 250 people should be canceled or postponed.

Governor Whitmer Announces Statewide Closure of All K-12 School Buildings; School building closures will last Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5.

Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released community mitigation strategies to slow the transmission of COVID-19 that urge residents to avoid gatherings of more than 100 people.A video of Governor Whitmer's press conference is available here.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. View more information at who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.

View the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Interim Recommendations for COVID-19 Community Mitigation Strategies.

Please visit the American Library Association (ALA) pandemic preparedness resource page for more information about how libraries can be community partners in response to this outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control provides updates on the virus and safety information for the public and healthcare professionals.

The State of Michigan provides updates on the disease's spread within the state, as well as frequently asked questions available here.

The State Department provides a list of travel advisories for those who are planning to fly outside of the United States.

 


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