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March 13, 2020

Libraries to Close Through March 29, 2020

Libraries to Close for Routine, In-Person Public Library Services

Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools will be closed for 10 business days effective Monday, March 16. The Wolf Administration will continue to monitor Covid-19 in the commonwealth, and at the end of 10 days will reevaluate and decide whether continued closure is needed.

Consistent with the Governor's efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, all public libraries across Pennsylvania should follow this same guidance. 

Since many public libraries are open on weekends and to achieve the maximum in public safety, the Office of Commonwealth Libraries instructs libraries to close for routine, public library services beginning on Saturday, March 14 and remain closed through Sunday, March 29, a period in alignment with school closures. 

We recognize that library officials may not receive this information as quickly as needed since the information is being provided late Friday afternoon following a day full of rapidly changing circumstances.  For that I apologize.  However, I ask that your library close for routine, public library services as soon as it is reasonably possible.

Following that period of monitoring and evaluation, decisions about the future will be announced via the Office of Commonwealth Libraries' website (www.statelibrary.pa.gov) and via our statewide email distribution lists.

The only exception to this directive that may apply is a circumstance where a public library is working in cooperation with local emergency management officials to provide essential services needed for their community during this period.  In such an instance, the library may remain open with essential personnel to provide these services but not for purposes of routine, in-person public services.

As a result of this statewide closure, it is no longer necessary to notify PDE of your closure.  In the instance where a library remains open, please:

  • Notify RA-EDEmergencyResponse@pa.gov of the purpose for remaining open due to work with an emergency management agency; and to
  • Provide the name of the person who will serve as the library's point of contact including their title, email address, and phone number during the time when essential services are being provided.

Please know that libraries closed under these circumstances will not jeopardize their eligibility for Public Library Subsidy support.

We will provide additional guidance as circumstances warrant. 

Thanks to you all for your great service to the public, and for your cooperation during these difficult days.

Glenn R. Miller, Deputy Secretary & Commissioner for Libraries