Reopening Libraries

Reopening Libraries During Covid-19: Lessons Learned from providing archive, library and information services during a pandemic. This was another 30 minute session and was described as “As members of the SLA Task Force for Reopening Specialized Libraries, Bronwyn Smyth and Seema Rampersad will present some of the findings of their Round Table discussions from this year, as well as their key practical professional experiences of working in archives, libraries and information services during the pandemic. Both have researched best practice information, which informed the guidelines presented to the SLA Community in Summer 2020. This has been a learning experience in unprecedented times for our community and their personal insights and knowledge captured demonstrates that we can use this challenging experience to help prepare us for future crisis management, pandemics and other health risks.”

I wasn’t super interested in this topic since I am not working in a library, but I wanted to support the task force. I also wanted to see if any of what the task force found out was relevant to information service in which I last worked.

SLA set up this international task force in June 2020.

Bronwyn talked about what the City of Vancouver did with their Archives. They have had a phased reopening.

Seema talked about the British Library. She talked about renegotiating contracts and working with vendors. Making a change to digital access is one coping strategy. Do a risk assessment before people start returning to the office.


  • Phased reopening allows course corrections as needed
  • Communication is key
    • supervisor to staff
    • staff to staff, including signage, helps keep everyone in the loop
    • staff to public – let people know how things are changing, continuously
  • Outreach – video video/online if in person isn’t possible. Social media is helpful and expanding materials that are already scanned is helpful to continue to provide service
  • Capture what you are doing via text and photos for future reference
  • Be prepared to course correct – puts it in terms of having an adventure and may make it less anxiety provoking
  • Social distancing
  • Contact tracing
  • Deep and regular cleaning
  • consider risk assessment – commuting, contact with the public
  • Be aware of how library/org fits into the community and how access fits in


REALM project documents/information

Lexis Nexis has a Coronoavirus Toolkit

Vancouver COVID-19 Safety Plans

Reopening Libraries