What is a library? In a post-COVID world, how will they change?


“The question is: How will libraries change?

  • How will libraries define themselves?
  • Without reliance on physical space, how will staff answer the question, ‘What is a library?’
  • Will libraries continue to use online spaces for live interactions with community members, in addition to in-person activities?
  • Will more libraries go fine-free for good?
  • Will libraries focus more on access to materials outside of the library building (digital access)?
  • Will continued concerns about germs, infections, viruses, etc. limit the size of in-person group meetings and activities?
  • Will social distancing permanently change how library spaces are laid out?
  • How will staff be deployed differently, based on changes in services and changes in funding?
  • Where will staff work? Will more staff work remotely on a regular basis?
  • Will funding streams change and what will that mean for library services?
  • What will friends groups do?  Will they still do book sales, author talks, and fundraisers?  How will these need to change?
  • How will library strategic plans, long-range plans, or five-year plans change in the wake of this?
  • If there is a shift in library staffing, what will this mean for a library’s hiring needs? (And what will that mean for thousands of people who want to go to work in a library?)
  • How will contingency and disaster plans change, due to what we’ve learned during the pandemic?
  • How will libraries demonstrate their worth in the months and years ahead?

Yes, so many questions and right now we have the time to think about them.  Depending on a library’s fiscal year and funding cycles, it may need to answer some of those questions soon.”