MBLC and MLS Announce Reopening Recommendations


May 27, 2020
Matthew Perry
Outreach Coordinator
1-800-952-7403 x240

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) have released recommendations for libraries to begin a phased reopening of in-person services. The guidance is meant to work in tandem with the state’s reopening plan released last week by Governor Charlie Baker.

“We are grateful that Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito included libraries when creating the plan to reopen Massachusetts” said MBLC Chair Roland Ochsenbein. “Their plan lays the groundwork for us to build off of to continue working towards the safe reopening of libraries across the Commonwealth.”

To create the plan, the MBLC and MLS held several listening sessions with librarians from across the state to hear their concerns and ideas for libraries as they prepare to resume in-person services to the public. Librarian input was compiled and submitted to the Reopening Advisory Board co-chaired by Lt. Governor Karen Polito. This information was taken into consideration by the group that released the recommendation that libraries can begin reopening for curbside pickup on May 25, and can resume in person services with restrictions during Phase II of the statewide plan. The May 25 date is not a requirement for in-person services to resume, and each community is able to consider what is best for their library by making their own plan. Despite having their physical spaces closed, many libraries have continued offering services and events virtually, and will continue to do so as they begin to reopen.

“We are so inspired and heartened to see the incredible work our libraries continue to do to support their communities, even when physical locations have been closed” said MLS Executive Director Sarah Sogigian. “As our libraries move slowly toward offering in person patron services, we’ll be here to provide them with support and guidance.”

The MBLC, as the board appointed by the Governor to serve libraries, supports these recommendations and has expanded on them in their plan to create library specific guidelines. “Each of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts is different and they know what is best for their libraries and residents” said Ochsenbein. “Now that libraries are allowed to open, we encourage them to consider carefully the guidelines that we have created to ensure a safe space for everyone.”

The guidelines for reopening libraries are available here. They are broken down into four phases and include guidance from other states and institutions that have begun reopening before Massachusetts, and a template that can be filled out by libraries to help them plan their reopening.

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( 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.