We've been working hard to support our library partners during the coronavirus outbreak by delaying non-critical projects and focusing on remote management and online service delivery. The solutions presented below can help libraries leverage their existing technology stacks to better serve both patrons and staff during this time. If your library needs assistance, please get in touch with us.

BEST PRACTICES: Tech Checklist for Your Library Closure

If your library is closing completely, just to the public, or moving to an emergency operations status, there are several tech-related items that would be helpful to check before shutting off the lights:

  • Backup Strategy: hopefully you already have a full data backup plan in place, but now is a good time to test it. If your backup solution involves rotating physical media, like backup tapes, develop a staff plan for safely accessing the backup media.  Remember, a backup solution is only a "solution" if you've tested it to CONFIRM that it works!
  • Security Updates: don't leave public servers unattended for the duration of the crisis -- ensure that you have a plan to continue updating and patching servers and services in your network, remotely if necessary.  If you'll be leaving staff or public workstations on, ensure they are set to automatic update with unattended reboot if necessary.
  • Domain and Certificate Registrations: now would be a horrible time for your library's website to go offline!  Check your domain registration expiration dates and renew if necessary.  Also check the dates on your SSL certificates and begin the renewal process, especially if you'll need a purchase order to buy updated certificates.
  • Password and Remote Access Policies and Training: Many library workers haven't traditionally been able to work from home on a regular basis -- does your Help Desk have secure and effective password and remote access policies to support library workers?  Have your library workers been trained on safe, secure, and effective remote work solutions?
  • Online/cloud services and associated payment methods: Using online or cloud services for critical functionality?  Make sure your accounts are pre-paid for at least three months, or confirm that the credit card used for payment won't expire while your entire accounting department is unreachable!
  • Keep an eye on everything: If you haven't already, consider implementing a network monitoring and alerting tool to help keep an eye on potential problems before they interfere with operations.  Alerts should go to multiple staff members and/or managers to ensure that a single sick colleague isn't a bottleneck for restoring service after an outage.
  • Updated contact info: Make sure that your staff contact lists - and vendor contacts - are up-to-date.  You'll want to be able to file support tickets or reach out to any vendor experiencing service interruptions, even if you don't have access to the Post-It notes hanging on your cubicle wall!

BEST PRACTICES: Your Library's Temporary Emergency Home Page

With libraries closing across the United States due to the coronavirus outbreak, visits to the libraries' websites are sure to skyrocket and patrons will appreciate having the information they need right up front on the home page instead of buried in a blog post from the Library Director. 

Consider temporarily replacing your website's home page with a lean and clean version focused on timely emergency information including what the closure means to your patrons in terms of their material, accounts, and access to the library's online services. 

Be sure to cover the following topics:

  • What to do with their library materials (keep them, don't try to return anything until further notice!)
  • What happens to due dates?  (have you extended due dates for everyone so no one's account will be blocked?)
  • What happens to holds and hold queues (can you freeze everything so that no one loses their place in a queue?)
  • Make sure there's a direct like to available online resources and make those as EASY as possible to access
  • What's happening with programs in the library and outreach services and any other in-person service and when might that change?
  • If people are not yet library users, can they still get a card while the library is closed?
  • Have you made sure no one's card will expire during the closure?
  • Can you offer any NEW online programs. See our page for help with that.
  • What remote reference or other services can you offer?  See our page for help with that. 

Good examples some library emergency home pages:

If you've got a good one to share, let us know!