CULC/CBUC Toolkit on Recovery & Reimagined Public Library Services Post COVID-19


Key Considerations


  • Which audiences and programs are priorities for public libraries at this time?
  • What do our communities need in a time of pandemic, and can we create or adapt programs to address those needs?
  • What is the optimal balance between digital programming, in-person programming and outreach? What mix of program models or approaches makes the best use of resources to meet community needs?
  • Should all programs require registration, to ensure we are able to assist with contact tracing if necessary?
  • What should the timeline look like (flexible, staged approach)?
  • What changes need to be made to program policies or procedures to reflect the above?


  • How will we communicate new expectations to program participants?
  • How will we respond if staff or patrons test positive for COVID-19?
  • How will we inform the public of safety measures we are taking?
  • What strategies will we use to communicate with the public and promote programs to diverse audiences, including those who are not online?
  • How will we re-engage patrons and continue to engage with new patrons in a time of service limitations?

Physical Distancing Measures

  • What is the effective occupancy of program rooms or spaces given physical distancing guidelines (note, a distance of 2m on all sides of a person creates a circle with an area of 12.56 square metres)?
  • Can programs be held in open or outdoor spaces?
  • Based on the answers to the above, how many participants can be safely included in an in-person program?
  • Can children be realistically expected to observe physical distancing guidelines?
  • Can programs that normally require close contact – for example, one-on-one technology help – be effectively adapted to follow physical distancing guidelines?
  • Can programs that normally involve physical activity be effectively adapted to follow physical distancing guidelines?

Safety Precautions

  • How do we ensure the health and safety of staff, patrons, volunteers, partners and external presenters?
  • What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be required for staff, volunteers, external presenters and patrons?
  • What shared objects are typically used in a program (for example, toys, games, craft supplies / tools, technology)? Can these be effectively sanitized for safe use, or can the program be adapted to work without them?
  • For programs that normally include snacks, is there a safe way to provide these or can the program be adapted to work without them?
  • For digital programs, how do we ensure patrons’ safety and privacy while using a variety of technology tools?

Staff Support

  • What training will staff need with respect to health and safety measures?
  • What training will staff need to support them with new models of programming?
  • How can we best support staff working with the public in a time of high anxiety?
  • See the Staffing section of this Toolkit for further considerations.

Community Support

  • How do we make programs feel safe, welcoming and inclusive?
  • How do we best reach and support vulnerable or underserved audiences?
  • How do we best reach and support Indigenous communities?
  • How can we reduce or remove barriers to participation?
  • Can digital programming content be shared with other libraries locally, provincially or nationally?
  • How can we best work with community partners?


  • Which new program models should be retained as libraries re-open?
  • How will staffing models and staff roles be affected by the above questions?