COVID-19

May 22, 2020 Update

Please see our recommendations and best practices for those libraries offering curbside service.

The Public Library Services Branch released two documents on May 14 to help guide libraries as they plan to resume public library service during Stage Two of Alberta's relaunch strategy:

April 30, 2020 Update

Public libraries are closed to the public and school libraries have no students. But Peace Library System (PLS) is continuing to support libraries as much as possible. Where school staff are in place, many have been in touch with PLS staff about ordering new materials or with other questions. Thirty-eight of our member public libraries have all or some staff on-site and are trying to find ways to help patrons. To help them, we have 10 people on-site at PLS headquarters and six working from home.

It’s certainly not “business as usual”, but PLS has been offering all of its usual services with the exception of delivery service. Some services are done a little differently because several of our staff are working from home and we are unable to visit libraries in person. Despite this, PLS staff have been able to:

  • keep libraries informed about new developments and provincial library updates
  • provide Consultant support
  • answer emails and phone calls to assist libraries
  • ramp up social media posts
  • provide online training for library staff
  • order eBooks and eAudiobooks
  • set up free temporary memberships to access eResources
  • promote online resources
  • send orders to vendors
  • receive freight and enter new items in Polaris
  • catalogue items and box them up for eventual delivery.
  • provide IT support
  • inventory the PLS collection
  • clean up the Polaris database
  • meet via virtual meetings
  • plan for modified (and safe) delivery services beginning next week

PLS staff are busy and productive. Most of the people working from home report that they are busier than ever!

We have ramped up library-based virtual services to assist people who are self-isolating or out of work.

In addition, we have been planning how to do meetings, programs and conferences differently in a virtual environment. And we have begun developing a plan to help libraries prepare for re-opening in a safe, consistent way.

Our goal is to support and assist libraries in as many ways as possible as they strive to offer services in a very difficult environment. Once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, libraries will be an important element in getting back to the “new normal”.

 Linda Duplessis, Director

 

Quick Facts

  • 38 public libraries have some or all staff on site
  • 8 libraries are offering curbside service
  • 3 libraries have no staff on site and are working from home
  • 5 libraries are closed with no service (Brownvale, Flatbush, Hythe, Paddle Prairie, Rainbow Lake)
  • 362 new patrons have signed up for a temporary eResources card
  • Social media engagement is up 650%
  • PLS and member libraries have purchased over $63,000 worth of eBooks and eAudiobooks in the last few months.
  • From the end of February to the end of March, eResource usage increased:
  1. Consumer Reports - 178%
  2. Niche Academy (tutorials for patrons) - 801%
  3. Overdrive eBooks - 34%
  4. Solaro (homework help) - 916%
  • The Public Library Services Branch (PLSB) has been holding regular teleconferences with library systems and larger libraries.
  • The PLSB has distributed three useful Public Library Pandemic Response documents to Alberta libraries:
  1. E-Content Resources and Virtual Service Supports
  2. Library Board Governance During the COVID-19 Outbreak
  3. Plan of Service During the COVID-19 Outbreak
  • The 2020 Summer Reading Program will be virtual, with many Alberta libraries sharing their online programming ideas.
  • Great News! Alberta Municipal Affairs is distributing half of the operating grants for libraries and library systems in May, with the remainder to follow in the fall.

Previous Updates

March 24, 2020 Update

Peace Library System staff are working hard to provide services to member libraries and residents during these challenging times. With libraries closed, there are some services that we can’t offer, but we have ramped up others.

At the moment, seven staff are working from the building. This includes the Director, the Accounting Administrator and five people in Technical Services (ordering, cataloguing, delivery). All activities in the building are done with lots of sanitizing and appropriate social distancing.

Nine people are working from home because they are concerned about the effect of COVID-19 on themselves or someone at home. They have a variety of tasks on the go  – ongoing consulting support to libraries, training, ordering and promoting eResources, database clean-up, IT support, Annual Report,  and other projects. They are available by email and phone (messages go to their email).

Here are a few updates on what is happening:

  • The building is open for freight deliveries so we have new materials coming in for receiving and cataloguing. We are still sending out orders and our vendors are still sending us shipments. When libraries re-open, we will be delivering lots of new materials!
  • We have ceased all PLS delivery services other than picking up items from Government Courier that were sent prior to GC suspending delivery of interlibrary loans. People are unable to get the print materials they need so we are putting extra focus on digital resources and online services. PLS has ordered a substantial number of eBooks and audiobooks (as has Grande Prairie Public Library). Several eResource vendors have expanded their service free of charge while libraries are closed. (Check the PLS website for details. It’s on two of the rotating banners – Get a Library Card or COVID-19 Update.)
  • We have set up a way for people to register for a temporary library membership online if they don’t have a current library card. This will give people access to a wide range of eBooks, audio books and other eResources while they can’t access print materials.
  • Patrons whose cards expire(d) between March 1 and May 14 have been renewed until May 15 for now. People with books out have had the due date extended to May 1st, and fines have been turned off.
  • We are keeping in touch with our libraries remotely and providing assistance where we can.

We are in touch with our colleagues at the other library systems and with libraries across the province to share ideas, challenges and solutions. Together the library community will adapt and continue to serve Albertans.

March 19, 2020 Update

Closure of Libraries

The COVID-19 situation in the province of Alberta continues to evolve rapidly, and as of March 17, Albertans are prohibited from attending public recreation facilities, including libraries. All public libraries are now closed to the public.

To make sure that these closures are reflected in Polaris, we have:

  • Set all of our libraries to appear “closed” in Polaris
  • Made any items that are still being checked out by libraries for their patrons not due until May 1st
  • Asked Innovative to make any items already checked out in Polaris not due until May 15th to keep them from becoming overdue and preventing patron access to our eResources
  • Any items currently being held will not change to Unclaimed until May 15th
  • Turned off fines
  • Notifications (telephony, email, text) have been turned off
  • Set patron registrations that expire between March 1st and May 14th to be renewed until May 15th (after which point we will review)

If you need help registering patrons or renewing memberships, or are interested in working on Polaris through the LEAP client from outside the library, please reach out to Janet at jayles@peacelibrarysystem.ab.ca.

Patron Pickup of Materials

Diana Davidson, Director of the Public Library Services Branch (PLSB), responded to libraries that want to provide materials for the public through curbside delivery and other forms of item pickup by patrons. She suggested we ask the following questions when considering if services of any kind continue:

1)      How do we protect employees from the risk of transmission?

2)      How do we limit the risk of spreading in the workplace?

3)      How do we ensure critical aspects of service continue if possible?

 Safety should be at the forefront of any decision to provide curbside delivery or have staff in a building. All decisions should be made considering staff and public safety.

You have policies on workplace safety and you have a governing library board. Rely on these to support you in decision-making.

Please feel free to promote your e-resources, your system’s e-resources, and the Provincial e-resources as a good option for material for patrons.

In response to this communication, many Alberta libraries are rescinding their previous intention to provide items/fill holds during library closure, regardless of method, whether ‘curbside’, by mailing, or by any other means.

Libraries should also consider that we have varying evidence for how long the virus can survive on surfaces like books at room temperature but estimates appear to range between a couple days and up to nine days, which means that the circulation of library materials may cause further spread of the virus within your community.

Based on provincial advice and concerns about the life span of the virus on virtually any surface (including paper), Peace Library System strongly recommends that any curbside pickup (or variants of it) be suspended.

Delivery of Materials

The PLSB has asked that libraries stop sending items via Government Courier immediately. Items already in transit will be delivered, but no new items are to be sent.

PLS Courier will continue the van run until the end of this week (Friday, March 20th). After that, we are suspending delivery services.

Mail-only libraries should likewise not mail out materials.

PLS Headquarters Update

Peace Library System headquarters remains open, but many of its staff are transitioning to work from home by the end of the week. Staff will continue to respond to emails and phone calls, so if you need to contact us, please call the main line at (780) 538-4656 or toll free at 1 (800) 422-6875 or email staff directly (our emails and direct extensions can be found at https://www.peacelibrarysystem.ab.ca/About-PLS/Staff-Directory).

We have updated your website hours so your library appears as closed until April 30th. If the situation evolves, or if you want Emma to make changes to your website or add News items so you can update your community on the status of the library, please email her at estewart@peacelibrarysystem.ab.ca. Don’t forget to update your social media accounts like Facebook at this time as well!

If you or your staff are interested in doing online training, don’t forget you have access to Niche Academy (https://www.peacelibrarysystem.ab.ca/Training-Toolkit/Technology-Training/Niche-Academy) and Lynda.com (http://www.lynda.com/portal/sip?org=peacelibrarysystem.ab.ca). There are lots of professional development opportunities available to keep busy at this time while our normal routines are disrupted.

Peace Library System staff and Grande Prairie Public Library staff have been busy purchasing eBooks and eAudiobooks. A wide range of titles in OverDrive and Cloud Library will be available for patrons to help keep them reading and listening.

Finally, we encourage everyone to stay safe, stay healthy and find ways to help others during this difficult time.

Linda Duplessis, Director

March 17, 2020 Update (2)

Please note that the Public Library Services Branch is requesting that all public libraries in Alberta close to the public immediately. About ¾ of our libraries had already closed as of today; some have kept staff in place to work behind the scenes and others have sent staff home.

Some library systems, including Peace Library System, remain open and we will be assessing the situation on a day-by-day basis.

Information on upcoming board and committee meetings will be sent out at a later date.

Email from Diana Davidson, Director of Public Library Services Branch:

At 3:30pm, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw has prohibited Albertans from visiting libraries in-person under the declared public health state of emergency.

You can watch her address on https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#p22780s . The text of her speech will be uploaded soon.

Please close your libraries to the public immediately.

If you need support in these difficult times, please contact us at Public Library Services Branch.
Please also utilize one another’s expertise in the Provincial Public Library Network.

March 17, 2020 Update (1)

Today the Premier declared a Public Health Emergency and mandated a number of measures to control the spread of COVID-19. About 3/4 of the libraries in the Peace region have closed to the public as of today; some have staff coming in to work behind the scenes and others have chosen to close completely. If your board is still making a decision about whether or not the library will remain open, please note the following:

New public health measures are now recommended to limit the time Albertans spend in large crowds and crowed spaces. Effective today:

  • Mass gatherings are now limited to no more than 50 attendees.
    • This includes: conferences, worship gatherings and family events such as weddings and funerals.
    • This does not include: grocery stores, shopping centres, health care facilities, airports, the legislature and other essential services.
  • Albertans are prohibited from attending public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities.
    • This includes gyms, swimming pools, arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, libraries, community centres, children’s play centres, casinos, racing entertainment centres and bingo halls.
March 16, 2020 Update

We know that the last few days have seen an increased level of concern over the spread of COVID-19 throughout Alberta, particularly with the closure of schools province-wide.

Peace Library System headquarters hopes to remain open for as long as feasible given how rapidly the situation is developing. We are taking a close look at our services, including delivery and ILLs. At the moment, we are planning regular courier delivery on March 16 and March 17 to libraries that are open or, if closed, have staff on site.

We cannot mandate closure for our libraries; that decision must be made by each library’s governing board. In the last day Peace Library System has seen an influx of our public libraries reporting that they are closing indefinitely, and we ask that you continue to email or phone us directly as you make those decisions.

If you choose to remain open for the time being, there are some practices you can introduce to mitigate spread of the COVID-19 virus in your community. These include:

  • Cancelling programs
  • Enhancing existing cleaning practices, especially of high-touch items and fixtures
  • Removing some high-touch items like toys and headphones
  • Closing some public computers and staggering them so people aren’t sitting directly next to each other; cleaning them between user sessions
  • Asking patrons to verbally read their library card number rather than passing staff their card
  • Extending loan periods and waiving fines

If you see more ideas that you think are prudent for libraries to be aware of, please share them over the Pecans mailing list!

For those libraries that are closed or thinking about closing, make sure to direct your patrons to our online eResources like Overdrive and CloudLibrary and RBDigital; we have an extensive catalogue of eBooks and eAudiobooks and eMagazines that will keep people busy while our normal routines are put on hold.

If you or your staff are looking to check your email from home, please know that the link to reach your email is https://outlook.office365.com and the naming convention for usernames is: yourpolarisusername@peacelibrarysystem.ab.ca.

The situation is fluid, and our plans may change based on guidance from the province or decisions made in conjunction with our TRAC partners. Thank you to everyone for being flexible and understanding; this truly is an unprecedented situation, and maintaining public health is our number one priority.

Our eResources

While local libraries are closed, we are still able to offer eResources to all PLS patrons. These can be accessed from home, 24/7, with your library card barcode and PIN. 

A cheat sheet listing what you can access through our eResources can be found here, while a complete list of eResources can be found here. These include:

eBooks and eAudiobooks

eMagazines

eNewspapers

Early Literacy

Homework Help

We are also grateful to our eResource vendors for generously opening up access at this time of crisis. Some of these include:

  • Access to Ancestry Library Edition has been temporarily expanded to library cardholders working remotely, courtesy of ProQuest and its partner Ancestry
  • PressReader has agreed to extend remote access to 60 days for users
  • TumbleBooks has offered us four free resources for the duration of library closures:  RomanceBookCloud, AudioBookCloud, TeenBookCloud, and TumbleMath 
  • NewspaperARCHIVE which offers historic news archives is temporarily available for PLS patrons
  • Audible Stories, which is normally a paid platform, is offering over 300 free audiobooks in six languages for kids for the foreseeable future
  • EBSCO is offering information and free resources for schools and public libraries impacted by COVID-19
  • The Internet Archive, which offers online access to older books that don’t have an ebook, has created a National Emergency Library with no waitlists for digital books

People in the PLS region who do not yet have a library card but would like to access our eResources can sign up for a temporary eResources card here.

Additional Reading

List of current library closures:

  • All 46 of our member public libraries are currently closed to the public as instructed under the declared provincial state of emergency.

Last updated 30 April 2020 at 10:00 AM.