Service in the Time of COVID-19 (coronavirus): Suggestions from Texas Library Workers, Plus Local, Statewide, and Federal Resources

(Please note, this is not a complete list, but serves as a snapshot of what’s happening across different library environments in Texas. Services and news are changing quickly.)

Services to Consider

  • Technology
    • Keep your Library’s WiFi on 24/7 if not already. Enables safe social distance and does not put library staff at risk. Purchase repeaters or extenders. [External link for more information]
    • Promote electronic resources via social media campaigns. Consider taking out ads to boost messages. 
    • Collect and promote low-cost internet service; find offers in your area: https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers.
    • Claim your library in Google searches and on Yelp, to keep your library hours current. Use this tutorial from WebJunction to do it. 
    • If your library has old laptops that do not currently circulate, consider checking them out either to patrons or places where the digital divide will be felt the most, such as senior centers, nursing homes, shelters, housing authorities, etc.
  • Services: 
    • Re-evaluate what is needed to obtain library cards; can patrons receive and sign-up for cards and be confirmed electronically?
    • Share (or devise) a local guide to resources (like this one), as well as pointing out national reputable sources.
    • Take this opportunity to promote the Census, since everyone is home. You can answer the Census via phone, and it’s available in 50+ languages. Visit our Census webpage to find TX resources.
  • Collections:
    • Extend due dates, suspend fines; 
      • Many ILSs are sending out specific information on how to change item records for special scenarios. Contact your ILS vendor if you need assistance.
    • Quarantine returned items per the latest medical guidelines or at least note that these items were received. 
    • Make accessible large print collections for seniors (CTLS has a circulating collection, but circulation is currently paused). Promote information on how to enlarge print on eReaders or other devices.

For library staff:

If your library is still open:

  • The State Library does not have authority to order library closures or openings. The decision to close your library remains a local one, and libraries should look for guidance from their city. However, libraries should consider Governor Abbott’s executive orders limiting person-to-person contact (and continue to check back for new orders and updates from the Office of the Governor). In addition, current research is still in its infancy about the period of time that the virus can exist on materials. Libraries should consider speaking to an attorney to discuss potential liability and risks from lending materials.  

Texas Statewide Resources

Need resources?

  • Tocker Foundation grant deadline: https://tocker.org/grant-application-process/. WiFi hotspots are eligible, though many companies are currently listing hotspots as backordered.
  • You might also consider low-cost refurbished computers and laptops from PCsForPeople and TechAnew (Texas).
  • Libraries that are considering the purchase of hotspots but are finding limited availability could consider purchasing mobile phones and using the hotspot feature.

Visit the Library Development and Networking COVID-19 page to stay up-to-date on services and programs in this quickly changing environment.

Need assistance? Staff in Library Development and Networking are still here for you! Contact us directly or email our shared email address at ld@tsl.texas.gov and your message will be connected with the right person. We’ll get through this!


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