Amid growing global concern about the coronavirus known as COVID-19, people are turning to libraries for resources about how to protect themselves and their communities. Libraries have long served as trusted sources for reliable health information, and librarians are trained experts at helping people find the latest facts about easily-misunderstood topics like COVID-19.
“We’re information gatekeepers, so this hits us on a personal level,” Lisa G. Rosenblum, executive director of King County Library System, told American Libraries. “When we have these crises, it’s a way to remind the public about what libraries have always done best, which is to share accurate information.”
Libraries like KCLS are sharing up-to-date information on their websites about the changing status of COVID-19, as well as using their communications channels to promote best practices like frequent handwashing. In a country where 14% of adults have limited health literacy, libraries play an essential role in helping all people access accurate medical information they can understand.
While libraries are doing their best to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, if you do find yourself staying home sick (or just avoiding public spaces), your library’s electronic resources could help you pass the time: visit your library’s website to see what eBooks, audiobooks, and movies are available online with your library card. As more and more schools, workplaces, and events opt for virtual meetings instead of in-person gatherings, it’s a good time to familiarize yourself with your library’s digital offerings as well.
Check out the American Library Association’s list of resources for staying informed about COVID-19 and other pandemics.