Preparing Your Library for a Pandemic



Today, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. According to the Wyoming Department of Health, there are no confirmed cases in our state and the current risk is still low. That situation could change, and some other states have declared emergencies.

Now is the time to prepare (not panic!) for how your library will handle any disruptions that might be caused and put together your plan. The American Library Association has a helpful list of topics to consider on their Pandemic Preparedness page.

Here are a few questions you may need to address to ensure both continuity of service and public health:

  • Do you have employees that can telework, and will you permit them to? Under what conditions?
  • Do you need to make any changes in cleaning and sanitation procedures? Examples might be instituting more frequent cleaning routines, removing soft items from the children’s room or having circulation staff wear gloves and wipe down returned items.
  • How will you accommodate patrons with overdue materials who need to self-isolate?
  • What criteria will you use for closing your public meeting rooms to gatherings, canceling programs, or closing the library?
  • How will you communicate to your patrons if there are changes to services or if you have any library closures? (The ‘M’ Word — Marketing for Libraries blog has a good recent post on this topic.)
  • What are your leave policies — most importantly, your sick leave policy? How will you handle employee illnesses? How about if the library closes?

Your staff should also know where to find reliable information when patrons have questions about COVID-19. See our recent blog post both for information on the illness and for resources for libraries. We will add to this list as additional resources become available.

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