The Public Library Association (PLA) recently wrapped up its free six-webinar series, Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19, that took place between March 26 and April 23, 2020. The recordings are available free.
The webinars covered topics of immediate need to the field, such as addressing the digital divide, managing anxiety, and responding to community needs through innovative solutions and services. More than 9,000 public library professionals registered for the series.
Respondents to PLA’s post-webinar evaluation expressed appreciation for being able to connect with their peers in a live online format, which helped them feel less alone as they responded to the crisis. Additionally, PLA’s analysis found that as libraries transitioned from immediate reaction to the crisis to planning for the future, the need for support and guidance around issues related to reopening increased.
Survey results from more than 1,500 attendee responses found that:
- 30% of all respondents reported that they plan to try a new program or service idea, such as introducing mobile printing, lending hotspots, increasing job search assistance for recently unemployed patrons, and transitioning in-person programs to a virtual format.
- 22% of all respondents reported that hearing what other libraries were doing in response to the crisis was the most useful thing they learned. Similarly, many attendees noted that they found value in being in community with others going through the same situation. The comment “not alone” was frequently made by respondents.
- 20% of all respondents reported that the most useful thing they learned was how to adapt or implement services in response to the crisis, such as providing homework help over the phone, developing new community partnerships, and expanding digital offerings.
- 14% of all respondents requested additional guidance to plan for reopening.
The analysis provided insight into what issues have been top of mind for public library professionals during this crisis and how they are adapting and planning for the future.
The recordings from PLA’s webinar series, Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19, are freely available to the public. PLA continues to develop new resources and content for libraries responding to the crisis on the PLA Resources on COVID-19 web page.They invite libraries to continue to share strategies, challenges and needs with PLA on their survey.