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Oklahoma Library Association Statement on COVID-19

Library Colleagues, Coworkers, & Friends,

These are tough times for all of us in libraries. We want to maintain as much access to our resources and services as possible to help support our communities, but we must also realize that public health is paramount.

The Oklahoma Library Association (OLA) realizes that any decision to close a library should be a local decision and that the library leaders should work with their local city & county leaders on the best course of action. That being said, OLA strongly recommends that all libraries suspend public operations and consider closing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

We, the leaders of OLA, make this suggestion based on direct evidence of the community spread of novel coronavirus, and the CDC guidelines that suggest no gatherings of 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks. At this time, the Governor has declared a state of emergency and public schools have closed until April 6th.  Even in our smallest communities and small libraries the chance of community spread is possible. We realize the impact closing your libraries will have on all communities. Despite the impact to towns and cities we still feel an abundance of caution is warranted.

This is not an easy suggestion to make and that is because we serve the public and help the public stay informed, engaged, and happy. Our libraries are, as sociologist Eric Klinenberg calls them, “palaces for the people.” However, we need to make informed decisions for our communities to make sure they remain healthy going forward.

By closing our library buildings and allowing their staff to focus on alternative forms of service, we believe that lives may be saved. In addition to the online resources and downloadable materials already available, many of Oklahoma’s public libraries are already experimenting with ways to continue providing limited services to their communities while allowing for the required distancing and disinfection that cannot occur in an open public building. Even as we work remotely, OLA remains a space for collaboration for librarians across the state; forums on OLA’s website can be utilized for further discussion and brainstorming on how to serve our customers in new ways.
Please continue to monitor the CDC for more information about the outbreak and ALA’s guidelines for pandemic preparedness.

If you need to reach the OLA Office, please note that staff remain available via normal modes of communication- phone and email.   Although staff will be working remotely there will be absolutely no interruption of service to you, as members of OLA. Key staff will collect the mail and process checks as appropriate.

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries has a special page devoted to information relating to the coronavirus.

The OLA 2020 annual conference has been rescheduled and will transition to a virtual-only conference.  Complete information is available on the conference webpage.

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Oklahoma Library Association
1190 Meramec Station Road, Suite 207, Ballwin, MO 63021-6902
Phone: 1-800-969-6562 Ext 5 | Fax: 636-529-1396 | Email:

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