Pivoting during the Pandemic: Ideas for Serving Your Community Anytime, Anywhere

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  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Sharing lessons learned and barriers overcome, this book will spur you towards new ways of serving your patrons during unprecedented times.

When the pandemic suddenly forced many public libraries to close their doors or limit patron access, library staff redoubled their efforts to serve their communities in every way possible. Demonstrating their resilience by quickly pivoting to new modes of service, public libraries are continuing to offer innovative yet practical ways to connect patrons to the information and services they need and enjoy. Offering real-life examples of what it means to be a 24/7 library, this collection from the Public Library Association (PLA) and ALA Editions shares how several libraries transitioned to virtual and socially-distanced services. No matter your library’s current situation or outlook for the future, you’ll be inspired to adapt their ideas to suit the needs of your own organization. Among the initiatives and topics explored are

  • homebound delivery;
  • citizen science programs;
  • virtual reference advice;
  • services to small businesses;
  • remote readers' advisory and book chats;
  • early literacy storytimes;
  • health services outreach;
  • tech guidance for patrons;
  • wifi hotspot lending; and
  • tips for social media and marketing.

Introduction: The Anytime, Anywhere Library

Chapter 1    Fostering Local Community During a Global Pandemic
Shaun Briley

Chapter 2    Engaging Your Community with Digital Author Events 
Stesha Brandon

Chapter 3     Providing a Seamless Virtual Reference Experience
Lauren Seegmiller

Chapter 4    A Genealogy Library in The Pandemic Age
Cheryl A. Lang

Chapter 5    Hotspot Lending During a Pandemic
Suzanne Wulf

Chapter 6    Moving Health and Wellness Online at Your Library
Bobbi L. Newman

Chapter 7     Community Can Happen Anywhere
Kate Hall & Christophe Andersen

Chapter 8    Triage Librarianship and Reader’s Advisory
Paige Knotts, Sarah Lane, & Stephanie Fruhling

Chapter 9    Improving Accessibility in Virtual Programs and Services 
Carrie Banks & Barbara Klipper

Chapter 10    Storytime in the Summer of COVID-19
Suzanne DeKeyzer James

Chapter 11    The Genealogy Roadshow: Using Partnerships to Enhance Virtual Programming Offerings
DeeDee Baldwin

Chapter 12    Moving Job Skills and Career Readiness Online
Ashley Welke

Chapter 13    Serving Older Adults During a Worldwide Pandemic
Allan M. Kleiman & Fatima Perkins

Chapter 14    Never Let A Crisis Go to Waste: Removing Customer Barriers During COVID-19
Cordelia Anderson

Chapter 15    Helping Students Succeed During COVID-19  
Cindy Mediavilla

Chapter 16    Panic, Pivot, & Press Play: Launching Virtual Services for Businesses and Nonprofits
Gillian Robbins & Caitlin Seifritz

Chapter 17    Early Literacy Services During Library Closures 
Rachel Payne & Jessica Ralli

Chapter 18    Tech Support in Public Libraries During the COVID-19 Shutdown
Luke Thompson

Chapter 19    Moving Book Clubs and Advisory Online
Becca Boland

Chapter 20    The Connecting Power of Social Media
Tiffany Breyne

Chapter 21    Continuing Cultural Inclusivity Programming During COVID-19
Nicanor Diaz, Virginia Vassar Aggrey, & Naghem Swade

Chapter 22    Walk This Way: Service Design for Clarity in A Disaster
Jeffrey Davis

Appendix: Understanding Your Library’s Impact: Assessment and Evaluation of Virtual Services

About the Contributors

Public Library Association (PLA)

The Public Library Association (PLA) is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.

Kathleen M. Hughes

Kathleen M. Hughes is Manager, Publications, for the Public Library Association (PLA). Responsible for Public Libraries magazine, she serves as its editor, and also manages PLA's publications program.

Jamie Santoro

Jamie Santoro is a Senior Acquisitions Editor at ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman. Her areas of focus are public libraries and school libraries. 

"Library staff and managers will find helpful ideas for programs and service delivery that can be implemented not just for lockdown but also for 24/7, remote and specialized services ... There is a lot to learn from the pandemic experience, and this book is recommended for its practical approach and as a record of how libraries responded to communities in need, providing evidence that libraries are still relevant, are nimble, responsive and agile."
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association

"This resource will provide valuable insight on navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic."
— Choice

"The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic were difficult, challenging, and in many cases, tragic, but for libraries across the country, they led to innovative and creative ways to maintain current services and develop new ones for their patrons. ... This book is valuable for several reasons. First, it serves as a historical record of how libraries were able to move quickly to maintain services and support their patrons during one of the greatest challenges in recent history. Documenting the commitment of libraries and librarians to serve their communities is also important."
— Catholic Library World