NEWS RELEASE

MBLC Recommends Libraries Close and Cease In Person Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 20, 2020
Matthew Perry
Outreach Coordinator
1-800-952-7403 x240
matthew.s.perry@state.ma.us

Statement from MBLC Chair, Roland Ochsenbein,  March 20, 2020

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

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.