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Statement of Support to Libraries and Library Workers

The MLA Board of Directors supports the safety and well-being of library workers and the health sciences communities we serve. We join the Canadian Health Libraries Association/Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada (CHLA/ABSC), American Library Association (ALA), and Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) in advocating for the safety of our members, colleagues, health care workers, and the general public

We applaud the decision many organizations have already made to close their physical libraries, while enabling library workers to continue to provide vital library and information services remotely. These decisions acknowledge that library workers are champions of social distancing, while continuing to serve our communities and flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health sciences libraries, and libraries of all kinds, are vital resources to the world. The most valuable resource of any library are the librarians and other library workers who connect people with the vital information needed. Therefore, keeping library staff and patrons safe should be the first priority of any organization. Most library resources, including access to the library staff, are available online and from any location with an Internet connection. While we acknowledge that these decisions are based on institutional needs and contexts, the MLA Board advocates that organizations close their physical library spaces, enable library staff to work remotely, and continue to pay hourly staff who are unable to work from home.

Examples of library services being delivered remotely include, but are not limited to:

  • providing vital evidence-based information remotely in real time via online chat, email, phone, and other online reference tools at the point of clinical care, while also supporting university educational services and support;
  • offering consultations with expert information professionals for clinical and other reference questions, literature searches, and data management;
  • maintaining 24/7 continuous online electronic access to important, current published literature, as well as interlibrary loan for electronic journal articles;
  • providing virtual instruction for using information resources on how to teach virtually and use online collaboration tools like Zoom, Webex, etc.; and
  • working with our vendor and publishing partners to ensure that systems enabling the scholarly body of knowledge remain accessible.

We especially recognize our solo library colleagues who are working valiantly to support the clinical information needs of their organizations.

The MLA Board of Directors applauds the thousands of library workers and information professionals who have been working countless hours to support their organizations during this unprecedented time.

For more information about how our members are informing their communities, see the publicly available MLA COVID-19 resource page. This resource is crowd-sourced by individual members and our member-run caucuses and curated by MLA members Jess L. Callaway, Angela Spencer, AHIP, Kristin LaLonde, AHIP, and Ellen M. Aaronson, AHIP.

Medical Library Board of Directors

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MLA’s COVID-19 resource page:  https://www.mlanet.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1712
ARSL Statement: https://arsl.info/arsl-statement-on-library-closures/
ALA Statement: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2020/03/ala-executive-board-recommends-closing-libraries-public
CHLA/ABSC Statement: https://chla-absc.ca/news_manager.php?page=20536

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