The library's role under coronavirus

The college is open today, and classes are in session, but it seems strange: why can’t we cancel classes for two days before spring break, before we move them all online? Keep offices open to support students, sure, but I can’t imagine holding classes did any good.

Our library is staying open through spring break, and will stay open after break ends, though likely on reduced hours. At most colleges that are moving instruction online, the library is staying open. There are two schools of thought on this. One is that the library provides essential services and has a duty to the community to maintain those services. The other is that by staying open the library becomes another potential site of community transmission. Nor should librarians and other employees have to place themselves in danger.

The former is the traditional view. But more and more, librarians are shifting to the latter position, in defense of both public and personal health.

Update: Timothy Burke has an excellent Twitter thread detailing the logic behind “close the libraries,” but from the teaching faculty perspective.