The American Library Association issued a statement on March 17, 2020 recommending that academic leaders close libraries to the public to protect library workers, students, faculty, and staff from exposure to COVID-19. ACRL-Oregon supports the ALA recommendation and encourages academic libraries to act immediately for the health and safety of library workers and the communities they serve. Staying open increases exposure for library employees, the larger community, and our most vulnerable students.
Academic libraries are, by design, unsuited to support the social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities. Keeping large public spaces like academic libraries open creates a false sense of security in direct opposition to efforts to decrease transmission of COVID-19. The strategy of having students without computer or Internet access use the Library during the pandemic also puts our most vulnerable community members at the greatest risk of infection.
Online access, virtual services, and remote collaboration are standard characteristics of academic library culture that can be employed immediately to move work online and offset library closures.
While specific plans and resources differ between libraries, ACRL-OR encourages all academic libraries to ensure that library workers are fully compensated, with health coverage, while libraries are closed.
We are experiencing an unprecedented time of uncertainty and academic libraries must take the initiative to respond early and do their part to minimize community spread of COVID-19 and protect our number one resource: library workers.
We urge you to close all academic libraries as soon as possible.
The ACRL-Oregon Board
Candise Branum, ACRL-OR President, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
Meredith Farkas, ACRL-OR Past-President, Portland Community College
Rachel Bridgewater, ACRL-OR Vice-President, Portland Community College
Aja Bettencourt-McCarthy, Oregon Institute of Technology
Ann Matsushima Chiu, Reed College
Heidi E. K. Senior, University of Portland
Katherine S. Donaldson, University of Oregon
Michele Burke, Chemeketa Community College
Patrick Wohlmut, Linfield College