24 April 2020
Week 6 of the pandemic and our thoughts are turning to what happens at the end of the lockdown. Australia is faring much better than other nations in terms of controlling community transmission and we may be only a few weeks away from some easing of the restrictions which have kept our physical buildings closed.
Around the world, libraries are talking about a phased re-opening. ALIA will be putting together information and ideas about how members might like to approach this time and communicate the news to their users.
Whatever we do, the safety of our staff and customers has to be paramount; we have a duty of care to all. We also have a responsibility to the library ‘brand’. Libraries are trusted places; librarians are trusted professionals. We need to provide a service to everyone in our communities and especially to those in greatest need; at the same time, we can’t afford to place anyone at risk through libraries.
Our ALIA Members in public, state, school, academic, TAFE, health and other special libraries have shown tremendous leadership and innovation during the COVID-19 lockdown and we can be proud of how our sector has responded to the challenges. In areas where library teams have full control over outcomes, we have performed well. In areas where we are at the behest of a larger organisation, be it a school, university, council or government department, we have had to compromise. This has been painfully felt by library managers who have had to stand down staff as part of a general order from higher authorities.
ALIA, the ALIA Australian Public Library Alliance, National and State Libraries Australia and the Council of Australian University Librarians are working together to collate a report about Australian libraries and the COVID-19 pandemic for publication later this year. We would love to hear your story. If you have a contribution, please send it through to email@example.com.
And you can contact us any time at ALIABoard@alia.org.au.
Robert Knight, President, Viv Barton, Vice-President