#closethelibraries means close library buildings to not only the public but to library staff as well, and that means completely closing them. To completely close, libraries must stop all curbside pickup/delivery and immediately cease all in-person services. Further, because no one should have to choose between their wages and their health, all workers should be given their regular full rate of pay to do whatever amount of their library work is possible at home until they are safely able to return.
As of March 28, 2020, there are still hundreds of libraries, both academic and public, in the United States that are sending employees to work despite stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders enacted at the local or state level.
The American Library Association, state library associations, and state/regional library agencies have all advocated for keeping staff at home (though the language varies from place to place). However, even in extreme circumstances--the Houston (TX) Public Library has a confirmed COVID-19 case on staff and its workers are still expected to come in to work in the building, using paper towels and rubber bands to fashion protective masks--these organizations have largely not stepped up to defend workers. This website is an attempt to help workers in these dire circumstances.
Social distancing is widely regarded by medical professionals and epidemiologists to be our best defense against COVID-19. Deeming library services as essential during an unprecedented global pandemic is irresponsible and wrong, and a convenient and intentional out for cities, towns, and universities who normally see the library as superfluous. If library workers are forced to continue going to their buildings and being threatened with layoffs or furloughs, we are forcing people to choose between their wages and the health and safety of all residents in their communities. We must act to #closethelibraries, to close as many of them as we can and defend their vulnerable workers from losing their jobs and benefits at this uncertain and terrifying time.
If you need help with organizing advocacy efforts for your library or there is a resource or tip you would like to see on this website, please contact us.