National Library Week (NLW) is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support. The theme of NLW is “Find the Library at your Place”, and it reminds us of the many ways that libraries throughout Maine support their communities. From free access to materials and online resources to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries offer opportunity to all.
At a time when libraries have closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, they continue to evolve. Libraries and library workers are proving resourceful and resilient, and they are delivering access to ebooks, movies, music, video games, virtual story times, activities, and so much more. Maine Library Association stands in solidarity and support of library workers. We recommend and urge all libraries to close and remain closed to the public until guidance from the CDC is given that it is safe to reopen and the appropriate precautions taken. For library workers who work directly with the public and at-risk populations, the health and safety of staff and visitors is of utmost importance.
While library buildings may be physically closed, librarians and library workers are busier than ever! They are continuing to safely deliver vital services to their communities, such as digital access, resource guides, research inquiry responses, online instruction to learners, teacher and faculty support, virtual story times and other content, including ebooks, eaudiobooks, movies, music, video games, and virtual programs and events.
Maine Library Association (MLA) applauds the library workers who are stepping up to address needs and celebrates the variety of programming and ingenuity in this “new normal”. As President of MLA, I am pleased and proud as I see and hear of the new ways libraries are finding to connect with community members and provide continuity of service.
The Tuesday of NLW is the day that celebrates National Library Workers’ Day. I hope you each took a moment to pat yourselves on the back and received some, well-deserved accolades from your communities. This week is not only an occasion to praise your work, but at this time of crisis, it is also a time to advocate for your continued safety. Library staff should be permitted to work remotely, where feasible, and buildings should remain closed to the public until such time that a phased reopening plan and precautions can be taken. Maine Library Association advocates that library workers are paid fully during this time and continue to receive benefits such as health insurance. In municipalities where budgets are being slashed and library workers are being furloughed or laid off, MLA continues to work with the American Library Association. We are asking the federal government to step in and provide relief for the second responders who are getting communities through this crisis and will enable our nation’s workforce to get back on its feet during the recovery. Strong libraries will be more important than ever to the communities they serve when life returns to normal.
Libraries and library workers have vital roles to play in their communities, and MLA remains committed to supporting them during this challenging time.
Be well, and I look forward to when our libraries reopen and we can meet in person again.
Sincerely, Jen Alvino, MLA President 2019-2021