Note on 4/25/20: Efforts to close libraries are still ongoing, but the focus of this website has shifted to include threats of job loss and unsafe reopening. For more information on the progression of these advocacy efforts, see this Book Riot article.
As of March 28, 2020, there were still hundreds of libraries, both academic and public, in the United States that were sending employees to work despite stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders enacted at the local or state level.
The #closethelibraries campaign fights for closing library buildings to not only the public but to library staff as well, and that means completely closing them.
To completely close, libraries must:
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 tactic for cities, towns, and universities who just as selectively see the library as a superfluous, easy target for budget cuts.
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. Library managers should avoid layoffs and furloughs at all costs, and if they are forced to take these measures, they must fight to furlough staff vs. laying them off. Furloughs allow workers to keep benefits and be reinstated immediately. Layoffs are likely to result in positions not being refilled indefinitely in the face of budgetary duress already underway at the municipal and county levels. We need a long-term strategy.
If library workers are forced to continue going to their buildings or risk losing their jobs, 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.