This is the last of our weekly COVID-19 bulletins – at least for now. When we began, on 20 March, we were deep into a period of uncertainty. Today, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, but we have stronger guidance from government, parameters are in place and our options are much clearer.
The consultation deadline for the Senate Inquiry into COVID-19 was yesterday (28 May) and when we are allowed to, we will make our full submission available on the ALIA website. In the meantime, we can tell you that our report, produced in partnership with the ALIA Australian Public Library Alliance and the Council of Australian University Librarians, with feedback from National and State Libraries Australia, makes for inspiring reading. In our introduction we say:
“Libraries have been highly agile, adapting and embracing new technologies, delivering online forums and making electronic resources widely available. As a sector, libraries have proved to be proactive and exceptionally resilient throughout the pandemic.
- We have taken a careful and considered approach to closing and reopening our physical spaces.
- We have introduced special measures to provide a clean, hygienic environment for staff and users; to quarantine and sanitise materials, and to enforce social distancing.
- We have proactively promoted existing online services and, where possible, we have adapted delivery models and moved our other services online.
- We have created new digital services and delivery mechanisms to make it easier for people to access what they need.
- We have maintained regular communication with our user groups and helped create and sustain a sense of community through the crisis.
- We have collaborated as a sector, sharing innovative ideas and best practice locally, nationally and internationally.
- We have monitored and reported these moves in order to inform our response to future events.
The federal government has focused on public libraries, yet these attributes apply equally to university libraries, TAFE libraries, school libraries, special libraries (health, law, government, corporate, heritage, arts, media) and the national, state and territory libraries. During the COVID-19 lockdown, school, TAFE and university libraries have supported students and educators by enabling remote access to essential learning materials. Health libraries have provided the very latest Coronavirus scientific research and advice to medical professionals. Government library staff have been redeployed as information professionals working across their departments. National, state and territory libraries have continued to support researchers with online access to their digitised and born-digital collections.”
We are immensely proud to be part of the library sector. As our submission concludes:
“Libraries are uniquely placed to support good economic, social and digital inclusion outcomes. There are millions of Australians who will need our support through the recovery process including students, job seekers, creatives and small businesses from an economic inclusion perspective; the homeless, the lonely, and people needing free and equitable access to public space from the social inclusion perspective.
The library brand is strong and trusted, our networks, both digital and physical, are well established and efficient, our workforces are adaptable and innovative, we have a deep and meaningful connection with our communities, and we are keen to support the national recovery effort.”
Viv Barton, ALIA President, and Vicki Edmunds, ALIA Vice-President