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

Guiding Principles

Public libraries are:

  • Committed to the health and safety of staff and users as top priorities
  • Accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to the widest possible range of people, especially those who need library services the most
  • Increasingly called upon to help bridge the digital divide and to support digital literacy in our communities
  • Integral pieces of the economic engines of our communities, by advancing literacy, lifelong learning, and workforce skills development
  • More crucial than ever in tough economic times, for instance supporting job seekers and entrepreneurship
  • Indispensable access points to information and knowledge in multiple formats
  • Key pieces of social infrastructure and public sphere, where people connect to ideas, community resources, and each other
  • Strong, caring, publicly-minded organizations
    • representing the diversity of our communities, serving remote, rural, and urban populations across the country
    • forging paths of Reconciliation by listening to, learning from, and building relationships with Indigenous communities
    • sharing and advancing our communities’ commitment to environmental sustainability
    • continuously evolving, innovating, and improving to stay relevant in shifting cultural, technological, and economic landscapes
    • eagerly collaborating and partnering with others to make a positive difference and to enhance and expand shared work
    • responsibly stewarding public funds to maximize positive impact within budgetary limits and ensure the long-term sustainability of our operations
In a world experiencing, or recovering from, a pandemic, public libraries will face new or heightened issues and opportunities, including:
  • Increased incentive to be agile and to innovate and iterate solutions to prepare for varied future scenarios
  • Unprecedented health and safety restrictions, and uncertainty about when they may be lifted and/or reinstated, that broadly impact operations and services, including access to, and use of, library facilities and technology; collections and materials handling; programming; activities in the community; and back office functions
  • Economic downturn and an atmosphere of fiscal restraint, implying greater needs among library users and potentially diminished financial support for libraries
  • Reduced ability or willingness on the part of library users to attend public spaces, programs, and events or to use library equipment and technology
  • Accelerated shift to digital over physical resources and to virtual over in-person service
  • Increased reliance on virtual services and digital platforms for business processes, services, and programming and the concomitant requirement to develop related organizational expertise and capacity
  • Increased challenge to support the needs and social participation of the most vulnerable populations
  • Transformed physical and virtual workplaces in which teams will need to learn new skills and interact and operate in new ways