Updated MLA Recommendation of the Closure of All Massachusetts Public Libraries
March 19, 2020
Office of the Governor
Massachusetts State House
Beacon St #280
Boston, MA 02133
The Massachusetts Library Association, in our role as a leader of, and advocate for all types of libraries in Massachusetts, is expanding on the statement we made on March 16, 2020 and recommending that public, academic, and school libraries in Massachusetts stay fully closed through at least Sunday, April 5th and possibly longer if Governor Baker's office or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide guidance recommending public spaces remain closed for a longer period.
As this is a truly unprecedented time impacting the lives of every Massachusetts resident, we also want to recommend that all governing bodies and institutions with libraries that are closed to the public continue to pay all members of the library staff their regular wages for the duration of the closure period. MLA recommends that staff members should not be docked for sick, vacation, or personal days for staying at home to protect themselves and the people they serve. MLA reminds employers that staff members who are using benefited hours due to concerns about their health cannot be expected to perform any duties remotely or otherwise on the days in which they are using their benefit time. MLA reminds employees that any unfair and/or illegal labor practice should be reported to their respective Union representative(s) and/or Human Resources representative(s), and if necessary, escalated to the Attorney General.
In addition, we would encourage all libraries that are closed to the public but attempting to provide curbside pickup, delivery, or other services that involve exchanging physical materials with members of the public to cease these services immediately. It is impossible for libraries to sanitize these materials before their staff handle them or they lend them back out to other patrons; this creates an undue risk for whole communities. Governor Baker has asked that all people engage in unprecedented levels of social distancing and self-isolation. Offering limited services that encourage people to leave their homes, no matter how heavily mitigated those interactions might be, are counter to Governor Baker's directives and go against the advice of public health officials on how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.