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

Information Services

Best & Leading Practices

Continue to support traditional library information services in a work-from-home environment that can be transitioned as needed in a phased re-opening of services. Use existing and new communication channels, technology, and service models to deliver information services to remote users and in-house users of libraries safely.

  • Chat Bots / AI on websites (and on internal screens when libraries re-open)
  • Continue to offer traditional virtual service (assistance by phone, email, chat, text)
  • Screen sharing such as Apple share your screen, Anydesk, Zoho options for remote support
  • Pre-recorded tutorials and webinars
  • Email, chat, text, phone support using customer relationship management tools such as Freshdesk
  • Bookable one-on-one sessions with an expert MS Bookings
  • Offer information tutorial sessions via video conference/ virtual event software: Zoom, MS Teams, Webex, with consideration for those with barriers to visiting library or accessing online service
  • Work with the ILS to create temporary fines and fees embargoes and extend due dates for materials until library buildings are re-opened to reduce customer concerns and inquiries about their account status
  • Create documentation, tools, and/or leverage partnerships to assist customers filling out government forms

Info Needs

  • Implementing a robust marketing/communication plan is necessary to raise awareness of available services
  • Triage community demands to focus first on the services most needed, with an awareness of those that are vulnerable
  • Train staff before re-opening on how to deliver exceptional information services from behind a mask or face shield, behind a plexiglass screen, or from 2m away. Be aware of accessibility issues such as physical distancing and cloth masks impacting the ability for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing to hear and/or lip read
  • Leverage social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), websites, webforms, blogs and other interfaces/software (ILS interface features, like BiblioCommons) to deliver reader’s advisory through curated lists and individualized services

Info Referral

  • Leverage partnerships with local and other organizations to
    • address social isolation, e.g. work with community partners to call people
    • offer information and referral services to other agencies
    • address information services gaps that other agencies don’t cover
  • Find a way to make relevant community resources easily findable for customers online via website, meeting accessibility standards via website (WCAG 2.0), and/or with self serve handouts
  • Find ways to serve, as well as places to refer, customers experiencing accessibility issues
  • Provide resource specific staff training to serve unique community needs


  • Train staff well in new technologies to support them to provide best possible customer service
    • Online Card Registration
    • Remote printing service
  • Prepare for the initial customers who will need access to technology
  • Be flexible and responsive, leveraging partnerships with other organizations including vendors and their resources for technology. Explore various technologies to assist both remote users of library e-resources and in-house users of library computers/e-resources.
  • Look for opportunities to collaborate/partner with other organizations to augment existing technology solutions, e.g. share open source solutions
  • Provide virtual instructions for accessing e-resources or point to instructions created by the vendor
  • Partner with agencies or other libraries to use/create virtual assistance/tutorials on popular forms
  • Provide public computer assistance to in-person customers while maintaining social distancing with tools such as Anydesk, Zoho or use of a laser-pointer to show where to click on the screen
  • Utilize computer labs to leverage projection screens for one-to-one appointments to support physical distancing between the customer and staff member
  • Offer WiFi access outside of closed libraries while maintaining as much possible the safety of the public around library facilities (late hours, crowding, parking)
  • Offer laptop, device, and data stick lending. Leverage partnerships to lend out technology to customers experiencing barriers and organizations that serve communities in need

Staff & Public Safety

  • Promote physical distancing and hand hygiene, reduce touchpoints and identify and communicate the process to sanitize touch points between customers
  • At branches with security services, review expectations and integrate physical distancing education and reinforcement. Consider augmenting support recognizing limitations in capacity may cause customer conflict
  • Create thorough cleaning and distancing protocols for public computer terminals and self-checkout machines; communicate those protocols widely with library employees and customers
  • Set designated or assisted hours for vulnerable customers such as seniors or persons who are immunocompromised
  • Use guidelines such as in the Cushman and Wakefield document to calculate how many people you can safely have in your spaces, including both public and employees, including study spaces and meeting rooms
  • Consider maintaining information services work remotely as this could create more public space for other services including access to computers and study space
  • Clearly communicate to your customers any new practices and policies that will affect service experience. Post these changes on your website, library entrances, and notify in email where possible. Consider creating videos for staff and customers of the new processes to increase comfort and understanding
  • Post notices that customers who might be sick, have been exposed to someone sick, or have just returned to Canada should not enter the library
  • Create a booking system for computer use at a predetermined time to assist in controlling the number of patrons in the building and minimizing conflict between patrons competing for technology
  • Consider PPE in the form of masks, gloves, face shields and possibly gowns for employees assisting patrons with computers. If properly protected, employees can engage in closer contact with patrons
  • Block access to areas of the library not open to the public
  • With the guidance of the appropriate public health authority, decide how to handle masks – are customers expected to wear masks? If so, how do you handle patrons who don’t have masks? Will customers who appear to be ill be asked to wear a mask? Will masks be available to customers who don’t have them? Consider sanitization stations near desks and computers, if possible