STLS Guidance & Considerations for Reopening Libraries
A response to the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19
Issued: 05/06/2020
Recently Updated: 06/04/2020 (
updates are in purple)

(Sections are hyperlinked in the Table of Contents below.)


OVERVIEW        3


NYS Forward Business Plan Template        6



Opening of Book Drops        8

Handling of Library Materials        8

Implementation of Local Level Holds        8

STLS Pickup of Member-Owned Materials        9


Implementation of Member Library Holds        10

STLS Normal Delivery Services        10

Building Occupancy Limits        10

Library Board Meetings        10



Reasonable Accommodations        11

Personal Protective Equipment        12

Equipment & Supplies        13

Social Distancing        14



SERVICE DESK        18

SIGNAGE        18


SANITIZING        18

RESTROOMS        18




NovelNY        20







ILS SOFTWARE        25

WIFI ACCESS        26



WEBSITES        27

SOCIAL MEDIA        27




This is a Working Document STLS will update as needed to accommodate the information needs of member libraries. The path of the novel coronavirus pandemic changes daily. We as library leaders shall adapt based on what we are learning and interpreting from multiple professional fields and levels of government. Please refer to this document often, so we can make good decisions about reopening our institutions.


STLS does not have all the answers for reopening our libraries. Much of the guidance we have provided during the novel coronavirus pandemic has been based on professional research while taking into account ideal pathways for public libraries.  

There are many unknowns about the direction of this outbreak for our region, state, and nation. And, it is difficult to determine what the single best approach will be for our libraries. All we can do is offer suggestions and provide you unwavering support.

At this time, STLS is recommending a uniform system-wide method of reopening. Such a recommendation might change depending on Governor Cuomo’s executive orders. Nevertheless, this document is intended to help libraries understand what reopening might look like, and how we, as a system, work together in determining a time and manner that is best for the health and safety of our region.

Moreover, we are offering Resources & Considerations for what libraries should be doing when they reopen. These suggestions take into account information from authoritative sources, and tie directly into our core services including: staff, volunteers, facilities, collections, programs, outreach and technology.


We have been reminded through this pandemic that our communities are interconnected. The actions and decisions of one community can positively or adversely impact the other. It is for this reason, we recommend a uniform system-wide method of reopening. Two important factors to consider are “when” and “how” to reopen.

When to Reopen

It is our hope executive orders will indicate all libraries in our five county region may reopen on the same date. This will mitigate any concerns of some libraries experiencing increased demand from surrounding communities that have unopened libraries. It will also uphold our commitment to equitable library services to our region through our Direct Access Plan.

The governor proposes a regional and phased approach to reopening NYS based on Empire State economic development zones. Our library system consists of three zones: Finger Lakes, Southern Tier & Western NY. This can pose a challenge if libraries in one zone reopen while libraries in a neighboring zone cannot.

STLS member libraries closed in unison out of concern for the safety and wellbeing of our 280,457 residents. It is our hope we do the same when it comes to reopening. Libraries would follow a reopening date that aligns with the last economic development zone to open.

We understand this may position a few libraries to feel compelled to reopen with other similar institutions in their economic development zone. However, reopening metrics in all three of our zones indicate a potential simultaneous reopening. We can always reassess if it appears one economic development zone will remain closed far beyond the others.

As of May 19, 2020, all three economic development zones within our library system have been cleared to begin Phase I & Phase II of reopening. The NYS Forward website, and confirmation from local leaders on each economic development board, have determined libraries in the Southern Tier Library System are, “permitted to operate with restrictions statewide.” Restrictions that are applicable to your libraries are as follows:

Phase I: (Started May 19, 2020):

“Government facilities only; operations as determined by the local government if such government operates the library (municipal library), or the library district (school or special legislative district) itself as a political subdivision. Local governments are subject to 50% workforce reductions pursuant to EO 202.4. They are encouraged, but not required, to reference and employ the State's curbside and in-store pickup retail guidance to the extent that it applies to their operations.

In order to operate, you must comply with all safety guidelines for your industry, as well as any additional health and safety guidance issued by the state. Libraries must affirm they have read and understand obligations to operate in accordance with NYS guidance.”

Phase II: (Started June 1, 2020):

Libraries that are operated by a local government (municipal) or political subdivision are allowed to operate as business restrictions do not apply to government agencies or entities. As a unit of local government, they are, however, subject to the 50% reduction in non-essential workforce that remains in effect and may consider alternate modes of operation (e.g. curbside or “in store” pickup) as they so determine. Libraries that are operated by a not-for-profit or other non-governmental organization (association) may perform curbside or “in-store” pickup once the region in which they are located reaches Phase 1 and may perform other “in-store” operations once the region in which they are located reaches Phase 2.

Please note that in order to be fully compliant, you must develop and file a Business Safety Plan, that is stored at the library for inspection by local authorities, and submit the online Business Affirmation Form to the NYS Forward website. See instructions in the “How to Reopen” section below.

Southern Tier Library System has facilitated meetings with member libraries within each county. Library directors and board presidents participated in these conversations to determine specific dates of “When” libraries would reopen. More than 90% of all libraries have agreed to reopen on June 29, 2020 to begin Curbside Services or Abridged In-house Services. Click here for a list of tentative member library reopening dates.

Libraries are encouraged to offer Curbside Service for a minimum of two weeks and then transition to Abridged In-house Services. This transitional approach will allow libraries to control the number of patrons entering the library campus or building during initial days of reopening. It will also prepare libraries for transitioning back to Curbside Services in the event NYS Executive Orders require libraries to dial back Abridged In-House Services due to increased infection or hospitalization rates in the future.

How to Reopen

Several reopening methods have been considered based on member feedback and extensive field research. We recognize member libraries’ concerns about the overall safety of librarians and patrons. We also know library services will look very different for the long term when we reopen.

In addition to reopening on the same date, STLS is asking member libraries to think about Abridged In-house Services as a means for opening in the coming months. The reasoning for this recommendation is based on the same idea of community interconnectedness, equitable library services and safety for staff and patrons. This type of service structure would best condition and prepare libraries for how they operate in a post quarantine environment through developing new processes and sharing best practices.

Abridged In-house Services would allow patrons to enter the library building after phased guidelines from Governor Cuomo and guidance through NYS Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our local county health departments.

This method of service would include: implementing social distancing, limiting occupancy, reducing hours and shared spaces, shielding of service desks, utilizing personal protective equipment, sanitizing essential shared areas, rearranging or storing public use furniture, equipment & supplies, limiting or restricting public computers, offering no public meetings or events until further notice, and considering reasonable accommodations (remote work) for vulnerable staff or volunteers. This service’s primary focus would be on the safe distribution and return of library materials.

It is important to note staff capacity, facility size or the governor’s executive orders may prevent Abridged In-house Services at first. In such cases, libraries will need to determine at the local level, and plan for Personalized Services such as Contactless Curbside Pickup or Usage by Appointment as phased methods for reopening until such time it is safe to allow patrons into the building and provide Abridged In-house Services.

All service types will require libraries to implement safety protocols outlined by Governor Cuomo for reopening, and develop additional library-specific measures as highlighted in this document.

Based on Phase I and Phase II reopening guidance from New York State, libraries can offer Abridged In-house Services or Curbside Services when they reopen on June 29. In addition to developing such services and preparing the library building for reopening, libraries need to complete four essential steps to be compliant with New York State requirements.

Step #1: Read and understand the mandatory and recommended best practices for Curbside and In-Store Pickup Retail Guidelines for Employers and Employees , or Essential & Phase II Retail Business Guidelines for Employers and Employees depending on the type of service your library offers on June 29. This document highlights most of what libraries need to know about reopening for either service.

Step #2: Complete the NY Forward Business Plan Template to document how your library will meet the state’s requirements. This completed document should be placed on file at the library, and made available for local officials or county government inspection.

Step #3:  Read the New York State Forward Business Affirmation (Curbside) document to indicate your library understands what is required to provide curbside or in-store pickup services. Or, read the New York State Forward Business Affirmation (Abridged In-house Services) document to indicate your library understands what is required to provide essential and Phase II retail business activities. The affirmation you read depends on the type of service you offer starting June 29.  

Step #4: Submit the online Business Affirmation Form that certifies to New York State that your library has read the mandatory and recommended practices, developed and implemented your Business Plan Template and agrees to the NYS Forward Business Affirmation. Libraries should select, “Retail - Phase I Retail: Curbside and In-store Pickup” as their industry if they start with Curbside Services on June 29. For libraries offering Abridged In-house Services on June 29, they should select, “Retail – Essential & Phase II Retail: In-store Shopping”.  Successful submission will generate a confirmation statement. Print and file this statement with your Business Plan Template.

NYS Forward Business Plan Template

The NYS Forward Business Plan Template requires libraries to address several important operational factors. Two factors of this template have raised several questions. Below you will find some clarification.

II. Places - C. Communications:

“Maintain a continuous log of every person, including workers and visitors, who may have close contact with other individuals at the work site or area; excluding deliveries that are performed with appropriate PPE or through contactless means; excluding customers, who may be encouraged to provide contact information to be logged but are not mandated to do so.

Which employee(s) will be in charge of maintaining a log of each person that enters the site (excluding customers and deliveries that are performed with appropriate PPE or through contactless means), and where will the log be kept?”

This requirement should be quite manageable given the size of most libraries. Libraries could maintain a log sheet that tracks the name of each staff member, board member, volunteer or visitor (not patron) who enters the building on every given day. This may only be 3 – 7 people per day for most libraries. One person would be charged with maintaining the log sheet. Perhaps this can be the library director, or another staff member on days when the director does not work. Log sheets could be filed at the end of each day in a folder for record keeping purposes. Logs would be shredded and disposed of upon discontinuation of program requirements.

III. PROCESS - A. Screening:

To ensure the business and its employees comply with protective equipment requirements, you agree that you will do the following:

Implement mandatory health screening assessment (e.g. questionnaire, temperature check) before employees begin work each day and for essential visitors, asking about (1) COVID-19 symptoms in past 14 days, (2) positive COVID-19 test in past 14 days, and/or (3) close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in past 14 days. Assessment responses must be reviewed every day and such review must be documented.

It is our understanding that temperature checks are not a requirement of screening, but rather an example of screening. Libraries should determine locally what screening assessment works best for their organization. A daily questionnaire could suffice as a screening assessment, which addresses primary coronavirus health concerns.

A simple paper questionnaire could ask the following questions…

1.      Employee/visitors name:

2.      Date:

3.      Have you experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or at least two of the following symptoms: chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell)? Circle Yes or No

4.      Have you had a positive COVID-19 test in the past 14 days? Circle Yes or No

5.      Have you had close contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the past 14 days? Circle Yes or No

6.      Employees signature:

Questionnaires could be completed by the employee upon arrival at work, and submitted to their direct supervisor who is charged with inspecting and filing in a confidential folder for record keeping purposes. Records would be shredded and disposed of upon discontinuation of program requirements.


Now that we have a better understanding of “when” and “how” libraries reopen, we can focus on preparations. Below you will find timely information relative to both Curbside Service and Abridged In-house Services. Both sections should assist members with library-specific practices.


Opening of Book Drops

Book drops can be opened as soon as staff have returned to libraries and, if possible, before service to the public begins. If all materials will be returned via book drop, plan to empty the drop much more frequently than usual and/ or have a designated spot for overflow returns in the event that the book drop becomes full after-hours. Disinfect the exterior and the interior of the book drop regularly. Clearly post a sign on or near the book drop explaining the book quarantine process and when books will be discharged from accounts.

There are roughly 50,000 library materials checked out to patrons system-wide. Opening book drops as soon as possible will allow libraries and STLS to start the initial phases of returning materials back to owning libraries. And, alleviate a large number of materials from being returned when libraries resume service on June 29.

Handling of Library Materials 

All returned library materials should be handled with clean and gloved hands. All returns should occur via book drop. Returned materials should be kept in quarantine for a minimum of 96-hours before being extensively handled or discharged. Do not quarantine items in STLS delivery bags; instead, quarantine returned items in cardboard boxes or on book trucks. Outgoing library items could be given to patrons in opaque bags in order to protect patron privacy.

Implementation of Local Level Holds 


Once Curbside Service begins

STLS Pickup of Member-Owned Materials 

STLS Delivery vehicles will begin visiting member libraries the Week of June 22nd to pick-up library materials that belong to other member libraries. A schedule of visits will be provided to library directors and the STLS Delivery email listserv. Drivers will only pick up items that 1) have completed the 96-hour quarantine process, and 2) are packed and ready to be picked-up from your designated delivery location. Books can, post 96-hour quarantine, be packed into delivery bags. Bags will be in short supply, so please return all extra bags at this time. If you need additional book-packing space, put books in cardboard boxes with a note designating their return to STLS. Please take care to ensure that boxes of books do not exceed 40 lbs. Pick-up of library materials will continue weekly until normal delivery resumes.  


Implementation of Member Library Holds

STLS Normal Delivery Services 

Normal STLS Delivery services, which allow for the movement and sharing of library materials between members will resume the 2nd or 3rd week of July. Start dates will be based on where libraries are at relative to service offerings, Abridged In-house Services or Curbside Pickup Services. STLS will also assess current data from New York State Department of Health to determine if it is safe to open normal delivery services. Delivery would most likely resume between July 13th and July 20th given ideal conditions.

Building Occupancy Limits

Occupancy limits should take into account local code requirements prior to the pandemic. Libraries should communicate with their governing municipality’s code enforcement officer to confirm building occupancy. The NYS Forward guidance for Phase I and Phase II reference 50% workforce reduction for some library types. This guidance is a good place to start. Libraries should use this recommendation to assist in calculating occupancy limits when they begin offering Abridged In-house Services.  

If a library building has a local code occupancy limit of 25 for their general public space, then the new occupancy limit would be 12. However, libraries should take into account additional physical distancing measures. Can the space allow for 12 people while ensuring 6 feet of distance at all times? If the answer is, “no”. Then libraries will need to make a “best attempt” estimate that accommodates social distancing requirements. Perhaps a library with a normal occupancy limit of 25 could accommodate 8 - 12 people at one time given new facility layout and physical distancing measures. Libraries should include all working staff or volunteers as part of their occupancy limits.

Library Board Meetings

It is our understanding library boards can meet and conduct business in person for public meetings in both Phase I and Phase II, so long as they exercise CDC recommended physical distancing measures (masks, 6-feet apart, sanitizing shared objects, etc.).

Depending on the number of people (members of the public) who attend board meetings, you could let them attend your board meeting, so long as physical distancing as referenced above takes place.

If you cannot allow for physical distancing measures due to occupancy limits or space constraints, then you should allow members of the public to attend your board meeting remotely. You would need to advertise and allow members of the public to register for the meeting using whatever procedures and online platform you used during stay-at-home orders. They could listen and watch remotely, and ask questions during public comment, while your trustees conduct their meeting in person. At the time of this writing, executive orders that allow remote board meetings have not been lifted, so this is still legal practice..

If trustees cannot meet this guidance due to occupancy limits, space constraints, or just an overall feeling of, “not ready to meet in person”. Then board meetings should continue online until the executive order that allows board meetings to take place online is lifted.

Boards should continue to post board meeting minutes and all pertinent board meeting documents to the library’s website per Open Meetings Law and NYS Library Minimum Standards. This is required during normal times and stay-at-home orders.


Below you will find several pages of resources and considerations prepared by STLS professional staff. The information provided is intended to support member libraries in their localized decision-making and lend credit to the many authoritative resources we have referenced and researched during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Resources and considerations are organized based on our core operations of
Staff, Volunteers, Facilities, Collections, Programs, Outreach and Technology.

Libraries should recognize the resources provided in this document are being updated daily. And, there is no “one size fits all” guidance for how libraries should operate safely once stay-at-home orders have been lifted. Libraries need to be creative about how they meet safety requirements, but also adhere to them for a time period that aligns with governmental requirements.

Governor Cuomo has been clear that businesses (private or public) need to adhere to strict CDC guidelines in order to keep their facilities open. Library trustees & directors, need to exercise due diligence in making certain their facilities are safe for staff and community members to return to operations.


Reasonable Accommodations

We are all in this together! This is no understatement. However, this pandemic has impacted all of us in very different ways. Trustees and directors should consider the constraints of their staff and volunteers. Especially those who are susceptible to contracting the novel coronavirus, those who have been compromised and those who just don’t feel mentally or emotionally ready to work in public. It is imperative library administrators use this time to mindfully review and revise personnel policies along with all other policies that impact the work of staff to ensure a safe place for all.

*Libraries are employers. They have a responsibility to supply and pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) that staff or volunteers utilize while working. 

Personal Protective Equipment

Equipment & Supplies

Social Distancing


Volunteers are valued library members, so it is imperative libraries acknowledge some may not feel ready to return to the library. Staying in communication with volunteers and gauging their readiness will be key to opening.

Those who are part of a vulnerable population, or are immunocompromised, should not come into the library as well.

Individuals who are part of these high-risk groups should not volunteer at this time:



For a full list of those at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19 visit:


Volunteers should practice universal infection control precautions:

Libraries should:


CDC offers several free handwashing resources that include health promotion materials, information on proper handwashing technique, and tips for families to help children develop good hand washing habits. Consider hanging signs in bathrooms as an extra reminder.


Libraries should also:


Does your library sponsor or maintain a nearby Little Free Library? Consider these guidelines:


Sources for the Volunteer Programs Section:



Library services will look much different once stay-at-home orders are lifted. It is necessary that facilities reflect and support services while prioritizing staff and patron safety.

*All actions taken to change the state of the building to accommodate social distancing requirements should take into account facility design under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Abridged In-house Services greatly limit traditional services provided by libraries. This approach mainly focuses on the safe distribution and return of library materials to patrons. All other services, such as browsing collections, utilizing public computers, offering programs or providing meeting space, or even making restrooms available will be limited or non-existent in the interim.

Staff capacity, facility size or the governor’s executive orders may prevent Abridged In-house Services at first. In such cases, libraries will need to determine at the local level, and plan for Personalized Services such as Contactless Curbside Pickup or Usage by Appointment as phased methods for opening until such time it is safe to allow patrons back into the building.


Desks used by staff to checkout materials should have shield guards that minimize staff or patron exposure to spreading viruses. Length and height of the shield guard will depend on the size of the service desk, and should provide a barrier between all staff and all patrons in areas where circulation or reference transactions take place.


Ample signage and directional information should be hung where staff, volunteers and patrons can read and see clearly. Signage should indicate where to stand while waiting in line for checkout, where to place books upon return (book drop), when or when not to enter the building, rules of conduct for browsing collections or utilizing library space, availability of library computers, meeting/program room or restroom restriction notices, etc.


Dependent on local design layouts, libraries should consider minimizing the amount of furniture, stacks or physical fixtures that encourage close distance behaviors. Common areas or shared spaces that allow for sitting, standing or socializing closely should be rearranged or removed from the library floor to meet a 6-foot minimum of social distancing and reduce the amount of items or space staff are required to sanitize.


Other items of consideration for temporary removal include passive program equipment, materials or supplies such as toys, games, crafts, interactive displays and learning activities. Public computers will also require consideration. See Library Technology for additional details.



Cleaning and sanitizing will be a regular routine. It will be good for facilities to offer accessible sanitizing stations for staff and patrons throughout the building. Stations should be located in high touch areas where the spread of virus is most possible. This includes in front and behind service desks, at entryways and exits, and anywhere staff or patrons might need to sanitize their hands or wipe down personal belongings.

Shelving or storage units for sanitizing supplies should be in a space that is accessible and readily available to all staff and volunteers. All equipment, supplies, and materials referenced in the Library Staff and Library Volunteers section should be stored here.


Handwashing is a critical practice for the safety of staff and patrons during this time. If service is focused on the distribution and return of library materials then the availability of restrooms may be limited in the initial months of reopening. This could reduce the spread of viruses and limit the number of times staff are required to clean a public bathroom.

However, restrooms might be the only point for handwashing within a library facility. Libraries will need to decide at the local level how to mitigate risk to staff and patrons when it comes to managing a public restroom and providing access to warm or hot water for proper handwashing.


We anticipate STLS Delivery will reopen after member libraries reopen. No set time frame has been established. Several factors will be taken into consideration including:

These decisions may occur for different counties (or areas within counties) at different times, meaning delivery may restart in a phased manner depending on transmission rates. STLS will notify directors when their delivery is ready to be reinstated. It is our hope that Delivery will reopen for all members at the same time.


Additional guidance will be provided to libraries on how to handle materials and prepare them for Delivery. At this time, we can confirm that member libraries and STLS will both be required to quarantine materials for a specific period of time before they are sent through Delivery. This process would include:

If you have questions or concerns about STLS Delivery, please contact Lyndsie Guy at


Between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020, STLS and member libraries contributed over $50,000 to OverDrive collection development in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The week that our libraries closed, the number of OverDrive users increased 14%, checkouts increased 21%, and holds increased 48%. Users and checkouts have continued to increase since libraries closed.

As STLS works to implement digital library card registration and patrons continue to take advantage of library resources from home, use of digital collections, and especially OverDrive, will continue to increase. We also expect a largely virtual Summer Reading Program for 2020, which will rely heavily on digital collections. Therefore, it is crucial that libraries continue to actively contribute to OverDrive collection development.

For those purchasing OverDrive titles, it is important that collection development be focused on buying new materials for the collection (published in the last 6 months). Purchases should also follow guidelines established by the Digital Library Advisory Group:

  1. Keep holds ratio at or below 7:1 (7 holds per 1 copy of a title)
  2. Recommendations purchased when recommended by 3 or more patrons
  3. Spending 55% on ebooks, 45% on audiobooks
  4. Preorder titles not purchased until they are within ~2 weeks of street date


If your library would like to make a contribution to the OverDrive collection, please contact STLS Engagement Consultant, Erika Jenns (



Libraries should encourage the use of these State Library provided resources through their websites and social media pages during stay-at-home orders and as libraries transition into reopening.

New York State residents can access information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVEL). A wide variety of resources − books, magazines, newspapers, and reference sources − are available free of charge. Topics covered by these databases include: agriculture, culinary arts, gardening, home improvement, and more!

Access databases from the STLS website, here:

Or, through the NovelNY website:


Once staff are back in the building and accepting deliveries, make sure that all vendor holds are released. If you made a list of vendors to put on hold, this list will be helpful in knowing who to contact now. Here is the contact information for the big 3 vendors:  

Ingram: Rob Scott - (315) 516-4901;, Amanda Inman - 

Baker & Taylor: Tam Crumley - 800-775-1200 EXT 2345; 

Brodart: Andie Paloutzian - 

STLS cataloging staff will be focusing on loading and cleaning the vendor records. We will still accept Help Desk submissions, and encourage libraries to use High Priority, when appropriate, but priority will be given to vendor records. Help Desk tickets will be addressed at a slower pace.  Please limit spreadsheets to 10 items, for the time being, this will allow us to serve multiple libraries per day.  One at a time tickets are fine as well.

It seems unlikely at this time that the virus is spread by packages and mail. However, we recommend isolating boxes 24 hours before unpacking and processing the items inside. Staff can also disinfect the outside of the box before opening. Please wash hands thoroughly after unpacking or handling the boxes.

If you have any questions about purchasing, cataloging, or vendor contacts, please submit a Help Desk request or reach out to Mandy Fleming (  



Changing sanctions and restrictions in response to COVID 19 across New York State and across the nation resulting in a constantly changing landscape of services being offered by all types of libraries: public, academic and special.

Predictions are that sanctions and restrictions will continue to change and fluctuate until at least Spring of 2021. This has prompted STLS to decide that BARC Services (out of system interlibrary loan services) will be suspended until, at least, March 31, 2021.

At that time, this decision will be reconsidered. Factors will be taken into consideration include:

Similar to STLS Delivery, Interlibrary Loan Services will reopen after member libraries reopen. No set time frame has been established.

Several factors will be taken into consideration including:

For questions and concerns about out of system ILLs, please contact Lorie Brown (


It is understood that occupancy limits and restrictions on mass gatherings will be part of New York State’s phased reopening. The reopening of libraries would only focus on the safe distribution and return of library materials.

Libraries should anticipate no face-to-face programs or events for several weeks to months during New York State’s phased reopening. More guidance will be provided by the governor as businesses operate and the rate of transmission factor is monitored. STLS will work with members to determine when libraries can start planning face-to-face programs. In the meantime and until further notice, all library programs should be virtual or self-directed.

During the phase of Curbside Services:



Library partnerships with community agencies are vital. Member libraries should be reaching out to various schools and agencies during this time to offer some level of support. Many of our agencies have been pulled to the front lines to offer critical health services or assist with food and supply shortages. A call from their local librarian could speak volumes about the value you place on the agency’s work and establish life-changing partnerships when libraries can reopen their physical facilities.

Here you will find suggestions, documents, and resources for conducting library outreach during and post quarantine.


Taking into account New York State guidance on occupancy limits and mass gathering requirements, use of public technologies will be limited or non-existent upon reopening. Librarians will need to consider safety, time, and resources needed to maintain shared equipment. Libraries may exercise a phased approach for allowing patrons to log back on to public devices based on state-allowed occupancy limits and local decision-making.

In the meantime, libraries can consider some of the following matters specific to spacing of equipment, ILS software, WiFi access, procurement of devices, internet safety & privacy, websites, and social media.



ILS software features and policy setting changes:





The library’s website is one of the first places patrons will look for up-to-date information about library status and services offered. Google, and other search engines, may also pull information about current hours from the website. Therefore, it is essential that your library website be updated regularly.


Updates should include:


The library website should also feature:


If you have questions about library websites, please contact STLS Engagement Consultant, Erika Jenns (


Like the library’s website, patrons will rely on the library’s social media accounts for up-to-date information on what is happening at the library and on whether the library is open.



Social media accounts are the ideal place to promote digital collections and virtual programs that the library is offering. Digital collections include ebooks & audiobooks from OverDrive (and through OverDrive’s app, Libby) and digital magazines from RBdigital. Library patrons also have access to databases, which can be found on the STLS website, here:


STLS often creates posts that feature digital collections that you can share directly from the STLS page to your library’s social media account. These posts are meant to alleviate some of the burden of creating new content every day. You should also share posts from library partners to cross promote programs and services. Be sure to “like” and “follow” partners in your community.


You should also use social media to promote virtual programs. On Facebook, use the events feature to promote your programs, even if they are virtual – just be sure to clearly identify programs as virtual, when relevant. Both Facebook and Instagram have a “live” feature, where you can record programs as they happen and your audience can follow along and interact through the comments. For more information on virtual programs, see the STLS website:


Consider using a program like Canva ( to create professional-looking images and graphics to share on your social media accounts. Canva has templates you can use, which are specifically designed for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also use Canva to create Facebook cover images, event headers, and more!


If you have questions about library social media, please contact STLS Engagement Consultant, Erika Jenns (




Ken Behn, Assistant Director - Head of IT
Lorie Brown, Professional Development Manager
Keturah Cappadonia, Outreach Consultant
Mandy Fleming, ILS Manager
Lyndsie Guy, Resource Consultant
Erika Jenns, Engagement Consultant
Brian Hildreth, Executive Director

Page  of