Post by Jason Broughton on WiFi Service Request - 3/18/20, 11:45 am
The Vermont Department of Libraries (State Library) does not have the authority or jurisdiction to require public libraries to close during this health crisis, the State Library supports a library's decision to close physical library buildings and to shift staff focus for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. While sad to many, it may be a very important step to reduce contact with the virus.
We acknowledge that COVID-19 is a public health crisis and libraries should do their part to reduce the potential for spread. That said, this health crisis affects more than just the physical health of those who are sickened, it is affecting the social, emotional, educational and economic health of all of us. These concerns are ones in which libraries, too, must do their part to mitigate. Rather than halt services, the State Library encourages library staff to continue to provide library services to the extent possible through:
- Online and telephone reference services
- Online programming, especially in support of students and families impacted by school closures and homeschoolers
- Increased provision of E-content services (eBooks, digital platforms, the internet and WIFI connections)
- Social media outreach and community engagement
- Other services identified as essential to your communities
Any decision to close physical buildings should be informed by current information from local officials and in consideration of the impacts to affected staff and patrons. While it may be necessary to limit physical access to our buildings, library staff still have an obligation to do what we can to ensure the well-being of our patrons and communities. I personally and professionally ask for your library to participate in providing WIFI access to your community during this time of an emergency. Please connect with officials such as your library board, Selectboard, town officers, city, town, and or municipality to make the most important decision in providing access to those in your community if you have decided to stop your WIFI signal. In some instances, you may need to review the length of your signal and examine if it can extend beyond the building and outward for users. All of this must also be examined through the lens of social distancing should persons want to gather to access the signal in person or in groups.
This request is being made as a collaboration between the Department of Libraries and the Department of Public Safety to ensure all Vermonters if applicable can have access during this time of a statewide emergency. While your participation is voluntary we strongly ask that you participate for the good of the community, as a public service for access, and to assist vulnerable populations.
What will occur next regarding this request to participate with Vermont Department of Public Service WIFI survey and request? You will receive an email from our Statewide Data Coordinator and IT Consultant, Joshua Muse with information about the survey.
Information about library closures, Library specific actions regarding COVID19, COOP examples, and emergency management planning for libraries is linked from the Vermont Department of Libraries (State Library) portal page https://libraries.vermont.gov/covid19
For up to date information on the status of COVID19 within Vermont we have the Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 site,. https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus
The Vermont Department of Libraries is fully operational and available to assist you with any service questions or concerns,