Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

The current situation is changing daily, or even more frequently.  This page has been created to collect official statements, news, and information from the MBLC regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Most Recent Statement from the Board:

March 20, 2020 - Statement from MBLC Chair Roland Ochsenbein

Most Recent Program and Department Updates:

April 3, 2020 - State Aid Policy Updates for FY2021
April 1, 2020 - MBLC Service Update (Blog Post)
March 26, 2020 - LSTA Direct Grant Application Process Update (Rob Favini)
March 25, 2020 - PJ Drive Update
March 16, 2020 - Commonwealth Catalog requests suspended
March 16, 2020 - Construction Reporting paused (Lauren Stara)

Important Links:

List of Library Closures
Statewide Online Resources for the public
We're in this Together: Free Digital Library
MLS Coronavirus LibGuide
MSLA Virtual School Librarian
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Coronavirus Resources

Outside Statements:

Massachusetts Library Association
New England Library Association
American Library Association

March 26, LSTA Direct Grant Application Process Update

Thu 3/26/2020 4:21 PM

Due to the impact of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic please note the following update regarding the FY2021 LSTA grant application process.

The final application due date remains April 7, 2020. Because the LSTA is a federal program deadlines are based on the federal fiscal calendar. The deadlines that the MBLC sets for the grant program reflect this. Deadlines from SACL review to MBLC Commissioner approval all stem from federal deadlines. Until we receive updated guidance from the IMLS, we have little flexibility in moving deadlines. Please contact your MBLC grant consultant if you have concerns meeting the final application deadline.

Application requirements are changing. We are not requiring authorizing signatures on application grants as part of the April 7th deadline in recognition of scattered workforces and lack of access to municipal officials. In addition, letters of support can be in the form of an email message to the grant applicant. Also, if you are unable to obtain a support letter/email we encourage you to move ahead with your application. The letter is just one factor in the evaluation process.

We are instituting online only application submission for the FY21 grant round. In accordance with Governor Baker’s recent stay at home order the MBLC staff is working remotely and therefore will not be onsite to accept physical applications. Be sure to cc your consultant when emailing the application.

We realize that the current crisis presents significant challenges regarding participation in optional programs. We encourage you to connect with your MBLC grant consultant with any questions or concerns.

Rob Favini
Head of Library Advisory and Development
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
98 North Washington Street, Suite 401
Boston, MA 02114-1933
PH: 617.725.1860 x237

March 25, PJ Drive Update

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 1:18 PM

Good afternoon,

With all the uncertainty we find ourselves in, it’s understandable that for many of us our attention has moved on to other matters. But we wanted to take a moment to thank the hundreds of libraries who participated in the 13th Annual Boston Bruins PJ drive.  With so much economic uncertainty for so many, now more than ever, kids are going to need the comfort and normalcy that a pair of pajamas and a good book can bring.

Some libraries are still holding PJs in their buildings, some PJs are still at MLS’ delivery warehouses and some libraries have not be able to report out their final numbers—and that’s OK.  But we’d like to celebrate that more than 7,500 pajamas were collected by libraries! The Jonathan Bourne Public Library had another fantastic year and collected 3,564. So many kids and their families will benefit from your participation and from the community’s generosity.

When we are able, we will get out and pick up the remaining PJs, release final totals and announce winners. Prizes were to be for this year’s Bruins games, but whether those games will be played is still undetermined. MBLC staff has talked with the Bruins about some options should the games not be played.

Stay safe, stay well and let us know if you have any questions,
Your PJ Team:
Rachel.Masse@mass.gov
Matthew.S.Perry@mass.gov
Celeste.Bruno@mass.gov

MBLC and COVID-19

Fri 3/20/2020 2:55 PM

Statement from MBLC Chair, Roland Ochsenbein

While the MBLC respects local boards of trustees and their governance over local library operations, in this extraordinary time, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), as a Commission appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth, strongly recommends that all libraries in the Commonwealth that are still open to the public be closed in response to the COVID-19 crisis in order to safeguard the health of all library patrons and staff and to aid in the overall national goal of containment.

The MBLC also urges all governing bodies and institutions with libraries that are closed to the public to continue to pay all library staff for the duration of the closure period. In addition, the MBLC recommends that staff members not be docked for sick, vacation, or personal days as a result of stay-at-home directives intended to protect them and their patrons and to serve the greater good.

Many libraries are successfully working with their local board of trustees and officials to address the COVID-19 crisis.  However, increasing concerns from the library community prompt the MBLC to issue the following additional recommendations:

  1. Promote access to digital resources. All statewide resources are available on mass.gov/libraries
  2. Discontinue curbside delivery as it may put both staff and patrons at risk.
  3. In libraries that are closed to the public but open to staff, library directors should work with their local trustees and public health organization to determine safe staffing levels.
  4. Libraries should remain closed until at least April 5 and possibly longer if Governor Baker's office or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide guidance recommending public spaces remain closed for a longer period.
  5. Libraries serving critical needs for special populations, such as libraries for the blind and print disabled, should modify these recommendations as needed.

The 370 public libraries and the numerous academic, school, and special libraries in Massachusetts are backbones of their communities. We know that this will be hard for the impacted communities, but it is in line with the steps that have already been taken by schools and other important community services.

The Commissioners and the entire staff at the MBLC are working hard to determine the way forward for library services, so very important to every community, while also looking out for the safety and health of all librarians and residents in the Commonwealth.

MBLC and MLS are continuing to update our resource guide. We encourage you to monitor it and to reach out directly to me or one of the staff members at MBLC with any questions or concerns you may have.

We will be in touch going forward with regular updates.

Roland Ochsenbein

Chair, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Previous Updates:

Please note the information in prior updates may have been superseded by the most recent statement.

Commonwealth Catalog Update

Mon 3/16/2020 4:41 PM

ComCat Requesting Shutdown Until Further Notice

Requesting items in ComCat will be shutdown until further notice effective Monday, March 16 2020. In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, many libraries are closed to protect the public, staff, and volunteers. Delivery services have also shutdown as a precautionary measure, making inter-library loan impossible at this time. Please see your library's website for local closures and updates on services.

State Aid Update

Fri 4/3/2020 1:25PM

Hello All,

In an effort to support libraries participating in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program as they cope with this emergency, the Board of Library Commissioners approved changes to the State Aid Program Standards Policies at their monthly Board meeting on April 2, 2020. The full Emergency Changes Overview statement and the Emergency Preamble approved yesterday for FY 2020 and FY 2021 can be found at the link below. There will be other updates as we assess the ongoing crisis and determine how best the MBLC can support you, your staff, your libraries, and the communities you serve.

Rather than address the changes individually in each of the ten policies for both 2020 and 2021, the modifications are reflected and were approved through an Emergency Preamble to the State Aid to Public Libraries Program Policies which has been added to the State Aid Policies section of the website and as a preface to the printed versions of the policy documents going forward.  
https://mblc.state.ma.us/programs-and-support/state-aid-and-aris/policies.php

Please let me know if you have questions. Good luck and stay well and safe.

Mary Rose

Mary Rose Quinn

Head of State Programs /Government Liaison
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Previous Updates:

Please note the information in prior updates may have been superseded by the most recent statement.

Construction Update

Monday, March 16, 2020 15:38

Suspension of monthly reporting for construction projects

Hello all,

I and the rest of the staff at the MBLC hope that you and your staff members are staying safe during this turbulent and uncertain time. Although we are working from home, we are available by email or voicemail (we will return phone calls) if you have any questions about how the MBLC aspects of your construction project may be impacted in the near future.

We are suspending the requirement for monthly reporting at this point. No February reports will be due at the end of the month, and we'll keep you posted as to when reporting will resume and exactly what we'll require.

For those of you under construction, please stay in touch regarding the status of your project -- if construction goes on hiatus, let us know.

If you have any questions, contact me or Andrea at any time. We probably won't know the answers but will try to get them for you.

Above all, your safety is our greatest concern. Take care of yourselves!

All the best,

Lauren

Lauren Stara
Library Building Specialist
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners