The Annual Conference in Chicago is canceled due to COVID-19.

American Library Association • March 24, 2020
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ALA Annual Conference canceled

ALA Annual Conference canceled

The ALA Executive Board announced March 24 that the 2020 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition scheduled for June 25–30 in Chicago has been canceled. “ALA’s priority is the health and safety of the library community, including our members, staff, supporters, vendors, and volunteers,” said ALA President Wanda K. Brown. “As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, it’s become clear that in the face of an unprecedented situation, we need to make tough choices.” 2020 will mark the first time in 75 years that ALA has not held an Annual Conference. The last cancellation took place in 1945 toward the end of World War II....

AL: The Scoop, Mar. 24

Staying open during COVID-19

Tom Green County Library System in San Angelo, Texas, is closed to walk-ins but offering curbside checkout services, as explained by this image from its website

Anne Ford writes: “Less than a week after ALA issued a statement urging US libraries to close while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, nearly all appear to have done so—from Los Angeles to Atlanta and Anchorage, Alaska, to Miami. But as of March 23, a handful of public and academic libraries were still serving patrons in person. ‘[Southeastern Idaho] Public Health said that we should maintain services, and they’re the experts, right?’ said Robert Wright, director of Idaho Falls Public Library, which has canceled all programming but remains open to the public. Other libraries have closed to walk-ins but are still offering curbside checkout services, such as Tom Green County Library System in San Angelo, Texas.”...

American Libraries feature, Mar. 23; AL: The Scoop, Mar. 17

ALA recommends libraries leave Wi-Fi on

Free Wi-Fi outside Garland (Tex.) Public Library locations

The ALA Executive Board issued a recommendation on March 23 to libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Libraries can and should leave their Wi-Fi networks on even when their buildings are closed wherever possible. A 2010 order from the commission permits this use without jeopardizing E-Rate funding that many public libraries and schools rely on to sustain and build their broadband capacity. In these unprecedented times, we should take whatever steps we can to leverage our resources to maximize benefit to our communities—particularly for those with the fewest resources.” For some rural residents, the Wi-Fi hotspots that libraries provide are a lifeline to news, virtual school lessons, and social connections....

AL: The Scoop, Mar. 23; Multichannel News, Mar. 23; Wisconsin Public Radio, Mar. 23

The 2020 Census and COVID-19

US Census 2020

Larra Clark writes: “Mailings and self-response for the 2020 Census have begun. As of March 23, 21% of US households have responded. To assist libraries impacted by COVID-19, ALA convened a call with its census task force members, Library Census Equity Fund grantees, and US Census Bureau staff. On March 20, the Census Bureau announced it was adapting or delaying some operations to protect the health and safety of staff members and the public. It still intends to deliver apportionment counts to President Trump by December 31, but additional changes are possible as the bureau monitors the COVID-19 situation.”...

AL: The Scoop, Mar. 24; US Census Bureau, Mar. 20, 23

Academic library responses: Real-time data gathering

Academic library responses to COVID-19 survey

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe and Christine Wolff-Eisenberg write: “As higher education institutions in the US began to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by moving classes online, emptying residence halls, and authorizing remote work, academic librarians found themselves in need of real-time information—not only about their own institution’s practices, but also how other libraries were responding. This is how we developed a survey to collect both initial and updated reports from academic libraries, which we deployed on March 11. This could serve as a useful case study for those who find themselves in a situation where speed in gathering and disseminating useful information is the most important objective.”...

The Scholarly Kitchen, Mar. 23
ALA news

Multilingual communication resources

Keep your community informed in 20+ languages

The IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section is working with the Australian Library and Information Association to create translated signage and text for libraries to communicate with their communities about library closures and changes to programs. Freely downloadable in 30 languages (and counting), you are welcome to share, edit, and adapt this content to your own library’s needs. ALIA is still seeking assistance for translations to other languages, particularly Punjabi or Karen. If you can help with these or other languages that are not yet translated, then please contact ALIA directly at

Australian Library and Information Association

Internet Archive creates a National Emergency Library

National Emergency Library

The Internet Archive is suspending waitlists for the 1.4 million books in its lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30 or until the end of the pandemic in the US. People who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis. This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries....

Internet Archive Blogs, Mar. 24

Watch 4,000 Canadian films for free

Freedom Road follows the construction of an all-season road connecting Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to Highway 1

People are self-isolating across the country to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay occupied. The National Film Board of Canada has over 4,000 films, documentaries, and short pieces available to stream for free and this includes a rich library of Indigenous content. In March 2018, the film board launched a cinema collection of over 200 films by Indigenous directors—part of a three-year Indigenous Action Plan to redefine the NFB’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. Go online to access the full library available at no charge....

CBC News, Mar. 21
Latest Library Links

Online storytime during the pandemic

During a health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, online story times benefit society more than ever, so it falls squarely within fair use, experts say

Sarah Ostman writes: “As your library moves many of its services online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, you may be wondering about the legality of posting recorded storytimes to your Facebook or YouTube page. The answer lies in ‘fair use.’ What does fair use allow for when it comes to online storytime, and how has the pandemic changed what is allowable? We spoke with Carrie Russell, copyright specialist in ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office, to understand the finer points.” Teachers can now post videos of themselves reading aloud from the Harry Potter books, thanks to J. K. Rowling and her agents the Blair Partnership relaxing the usual copyright permissions....

Programming Librarian, Mar. 13, 24; J. K. Rowling, Mar. 20

Self-care during COVID-19

I love working from home! I get along with everyone in the office, I can show up in my pyjamas, and I’m always employee of the month.

Abby Johnson writes: “Last week, I posted about some of the things my library is doing to serve our patrons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week I felt a great deal of panic. Our buildings were shuttered suddenly and we had never approached switching to an all-virtual model before. There was lots of figuring-out-of-things and I felt like it all had to happen yesterday so that our patrons knew that we want to help them and that we’re here during this crisis. I can’t live long-term at the stress level I put on myself last week, so here are a few things I have already learned in the brief time I’ve been working from home.”...

Abby the Librarian, Mar. 20, 23
Dewey Decibel podcast

I’ll miss my college library the most

Gates of Barnard College

Mya Nunnally writes: “My college emailed us to let the students know that this year, most of us should move out of our dorms by the end of March. Now at home, it is heartbreaking to realize that I will never return to campus as a student. As I reflected on this, I realized that the aspect of college life I’ll miss most is our college library. Looking back, I truly believe that I wouldn’t have made it through college at all without our library. Cue montage of me working at this library for the next four years. The library allowed me to simultaneously hone my librarian skills and work on my coursework. It provided me with the necessary income that kept me from falling into any more debt. It also offered me a family.”...

Book Riot, Mar. 23

It’s okay to play video games

A scene from Skyrim. From Bethesda Game Studios

Peter Suderman writes: “The last time I was unemployed was in the depths of the Great Recession. I had recently moved in with my girlfriend, who suddenly found herself with an out-of-work partner who rarely left the house. But she gave me some surprising advice: Play video games. She was right. Playing video games helped ease my mind, my mood, and possibly our relationship. This year we’ll celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. So now I’m going to give the same advice to anyone who is now out of work, or otherwise kept at home: Play video games. And don’t feel bad about it.”...

New York Times, Mar. 23

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