The Pennsylvania Department of Education's Office of Commonwealth Libraries knows how important public libraries are in people's lives. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is faced with a unique public health crisis that requires all of us to make the health and safety of every resident our highest priority.
Libraries are, by their very design, unable to practice aggressive social distancing to the degree recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This means that keeping libraries open at this time has the potential to harm communities more than help.
Therefore, the instructions to close libraries across the state were issued to ensure the safety of all Pennsylvanians. The instructions were issued in accordance with recommendations from Pennsylvania's most reliable public health officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
As the situation evolves and additional authoritative information becomes available, the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Office of Commonwealth Libraries will act on the guidance it receives from public health scientists with the intention of restoring library services as quickly -
and safely - as possible.
In the meantime, libraries are encouraged to provide residents with enhanced remote services such as:
- Increased provision of E-content (eBooks, eAudios, streaming services, etc.);
- Online programming, especially in support of students and families affected by school closures and those with special needs such as people who are living in isolation;
- Online reference services through chat, email, etc. (Your library may wish to consider using staff time to support Chat with a Librarian services offered through POWER Library.);
- Making Wi-Fi services available beyond the library's walls;
- Facilitating community meetings through the library' virtual meeting technology;
- Posting on social media to engage with the community; or
- Working with local emergency management officials to host a blood drive or some other service needed by emergency management officials.
For information about online library services that are available to every Pennsylvanian, visit POWER Library.