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May 6, 2020​

New Guidance for Yellow Phase Libraries

Earlier this week I wrote to you regarding how libraries located in the newly designated "Yellow Phase" should develop local library reopening plans. While the Office of Commonwealth Libraries awaits final approval of its Framework for Reopening Libraries, there is a new document that every public library must review and base its local library reopening plans upon:

All businesses, including non-profits, permitted to conduct in-person operations are subject to this guidance. This guidance is based on the building safety and business safety orders, under which nearly all life-sustaining businesses have been operating during the red phase.

This new document provides important information on:

  • Protecting employees, especially those that serve the public;
  • Requirements for communicating with employees and any on-site customers about COVID-19 safety; and
  • Enforcement of these requirements.

Thus, we are amending our interim guidance that was provided on Monday, May 4, 2020 to include the following:

  1. If your library hasn't already begun doing so, it should begin drafting local library reopening plans. We encourage each library to work with their district library consultant or system administrator to develop these plans. Then, when PDE's Framework for Reopening Libraries becomes available, each library can finalize its plans by using the framework as a final check.
  2. Each library should order supplies that it will need to create a safe environment for staff and patrons. Needed supplies could include:
    • Masks.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting supplies.
    • Hand sanitizer for staff and the public
    • Sneeze shields made out of non-porous materials such as plexiglass, plastic, glass, etc.
    • Tissues.
    • Gloves.
    • Thermometers.

    To obtain the best pricing possible, we encourage each library to coordinate these orders with nearby libraries, systems, or districts.

  3. As the basis for all reopening plans, each library must be familiar with and implement all state and federal guidelines that apply to community organizations and businesses. These include:
    1. [NEW] Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate during the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public (PDF)
    2. Pennsylvania Public Health Safety Measures for Businesses Permitted to Maintain In-Person Operations
    3. Pennsylvania Building Safety Measures
    4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
    5. CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
    6. CDC Interim Guidance for Community and Faith-Based Organizations
    7. State Library of Pennsylvania - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions - What are recommendations for disinfecting returned library materials?

Information and Questions

Information and future guidance will be announced as soon as it is available via our statewide email distribution lists and on our Guidance and Resources for Public Libraries website. This page has links to:

Questions about COVID-19 issues should be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Education's emergency response account at:

Glenn R. Miller, Deputy Secretary & Commissioner for Libraries