With the release of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Reopening Massachusetts Report earlier this week plans for libraries transitioning from virtual to physical services has begun in earnest. The process of returning to our buildings, redeploying staff, and reengaging with our users is complex and serious work given the health and safety risks around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MBLC and MLS have been responding to numerous questions around how libraries should resume full services to meet community needs while, more importantly, keeping staff and library users safe. With no play book to refer to, we held a series of 10 information gathering sessions in association with the nine automated library networks and heard from over 575 librarians from across the state. These sessions proved to be invaluable to identify common concerns and challenges facing libraries of all sizes.

These sessions helped to create the materials that we are making available on the MLS COVID-19 LibGuide today (https://guides.masslibsystem.org/COVID19/COOP). We hope that the information will help libraries to create a well-informed phased resumption of service plans that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of their community and help to better engage their local municipal leaders in the process.

Although guidance and best practices below were created for public librarians, it is our hope that other library types may find the info useful.

We are also preparing an FAQ to answer specific detailed common questions that came out of this process. The documents released today should be seen as living documents. Changes and updates will be made due to significant changes in state reporting of COVID-19 cases, and on changing understanding of Coronavirus science and safety protocol as outlined by state and federal agencies.

Many thanks go out to our nine Library Automated Network administrators for their help in quickly pulling together our listening sessions and to the many people who joined us to share their many insights.

In addition we would like to thank the staffs of the MBLC and MLS for their guidance, expertise, and the amazing work that they do on a daily basis to help our libraries navigate these stressful and uncertain times.

Be well and be safe out there!

Maura Deedy
Library Advisory Specialist – MBLC

Terry McQuown
Consulting & Training Services Director – MLS

Rob Favini
Head of Library Advisory and Development – MBLC

Sarah Sogigian
Executive Director – MLS