NYLA Updates on COVID-19 Pandemic
Update March 30
The latest Executive Order issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo postpones all library votes previously scheduled to take place in April or May, to be moved to June 1, 2020 (or later).
Update March 27
NYLA is closely monitoring the rapidly changing legislative season including, most recently, the process to determine and implement a state-wide budget. COVID-19 has upended the traditional process that we have become familiar with and instead replaced it will uncertainty.
At this time, the one-house budgets from the state’s Senate and Assembly appear to be off the table. With ever-changing revenue projections, the proposals that both houses had been drafting prior to the pandemic, became moot. Deemed essential by the Governor, the Legislature is making accommodations to allow members to participate virtually. However, is it still undetermined whether they will convene for the remainder of the calendar year after the budget is adopted.
Governor Cuomo has signaled (3/26) that he is considering a ‘flexible budget’ that will be reevaluated on a continuous basis, with adjustments built in at each step to reflect the state’s fiscal health. The proposal led to more questions than we have been provided answers. The final crafting of the FY2020-21 New York State budget is expected to take place largely ‘behind the scenes’ between the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, and Assembly Speaker.
Prior to yesterday’s briefing, the Governor stated, “To be advocating for more state funding is beyond the pale of a colorable claim,” and continued, “The state is broke.”
Historically, NYLA has asked the community to engage in traditional grassroots efforts that include letter writing or telephone-campaigns. However, given the current landscape, we shifted our advocacy strategy and completed targeted messaging instead. In addition, the NYLA staff is hard at work interacting with members of the Legislature, their staff members, members of the press, and allied associations to gather information and influence the outcomes.
We know the next few weeks feel uncertain and for many, it’s overwhelming, but we are confident in the commitment of the New York library community and their ability to serve their patrons with the essential resources and information they need. We are strongest together.
3-27 Statement as PDF
Update March 25
Update March 20
The latest Executive Order issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo requires non-essential businesses to reduce their in-house workforce by 75%. Libraries remaining open will be required to reduce their in-person staff by Friday, March 21 at 8:00 p.m.
Update March 18
Governor Andrew Cuomo his issued a number of Executive Orders in relation to COVID-19.
Update March 15
NYLA recognizes that the 'large gathering ban' from the Governor's Office provides an exemption for libraries. That said, the volume of visitors into a library on a given day makes it a exceptionally difficult to safeguard public and employee health, and to curtail community transmission.
As stated, the decision to suspend public operations is best made at the local level in consultation with county level health department officials.
Update March 14
Libraries are a gathering place in the community, frequently bringing together significant numbers of people. In order to minimize opportunities for transmission, and to protect both community members' health and library employees, the New York Library Association is recommending that public libraries in New York State suspend public operations based on the guidance issued from the Governor’s office.
The New York Library Association is committed to supporting its members, library workers, and their patrons during this difficult time.
During times of crisis, libraries have a critical roll to play in supporting the communities they serve, both in-person or electronically. By connecting patrons with accurate information, libraries empower users to act in a thoughtful and measured manner.
Below is a small sample of communications issued by some New York State libraries, and some other resources.
We offer our thanks to all libraries, and their staff, for their efforts to serve their communities during the pandemic.
From the American Library Association
We are also providing the following guidance for members and their institutions:
Stopping the spread of the virus:
ALA is aware that many higher education institutions are suspending or moving classes online and are making decisions about sustaining library services. We recognize that these decisions about whether to remain open are best made locally and should include consideration of the wellbeing of staff and library users. We also know that in the last several days, many public library systems across the US have made the difficult decision to close. Similarly, as school systems send students home or move to remote learning, school libraries are closing, too.
If libraries stay open, they should follow CDC recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection. They should also encourage their staff and users to take basic steps to avoid spreading germs, including:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Staying home when you are sick.
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
Serving our communities during the pandemic:
Libraries and librarians are trusted information specialists, and we can play a role in not only slowing the spread of the disease but also the spread of misinformation. Point library users to vital websites like the World Health Organization, CDC, local public health websites, and other trusted sources. Consider putting up COVID-19 resources on your library’s home page (see, for example, Seattle Public Library’s digital response.) Ensure that library users and non-users alike know about the valuable resources libraries have to offer, such as support for teachers and students engaging in online instruction; access to hotspots, ebooks, subscriptions to online magazines and news sources; and curated lists to COVID-19 news and examples of best-practice responses.
We know that many libraries are facing closings in light of regional public health strategies, while others are being asked to expand their services at this time.
We also applaud the numerous examples of librarians creating rapid response information sources and serving on community-wide task forces to help with messaging, information resources, and other preparedness measures. We know many of you are doing the hard work on the ground right now, and your perspective and experience is invaluable. Keep up the great work and please continue to share the resources you are creating with us.
Libraries are local institutions and decisions about how and if to continue to hold programs should be made using the best and most recent information available from local public health agencies. Libraries are gathering places and serve as integral parts of their communities. Decision makers will need to weigh the well-being of staff, library users, and the community when making changes to library service hours, programs or policies given their local contexts.
A Note About NYLA Sponsored Events
The health and safety of our members, staff, and conference attendees is our primary concern and will influence all decisions we make. We are also considering contingencies. We recognize that traveling to conferences is a choice that each attendee will need to make based on their individual situation. NYLA will continue to monitor the latest developments and will provide updates regarding any changes in NYLA sponsored events.
As of Friday, March 13, we are seeing many libraries suspend all programming, outside group-use of meeting spaces, and outreach activities. Some libraries are moving to a temporary complete shutdown of operations. These examples are provided as a simple sampling of communications being issued by some libraries in New York State. Operational decisions are best handled on the local level, and this information is not intended as guidance.
Albany Public Library (3/13)
Baldwin Public Library (3/12)
New York Public Library (closing from 3/14 – 3/31)