Closings and Cancellations

As of March 26, the majority of Oklahoma public libraries have completely closed or closed to the public. The link above will give you more details about the status of Oklahoma’s community libraries, as well as the status of library and literary events, and continuing education opportunities. For libraries that are remaining open, see the strategies below.

The American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board released the following statement in support of libraries and library workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. View the ALA statement at American Library Association Executive Board Recommends Closing Libraries to Public.

The Board of Directors for the national Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) supports the safety and well-being of library workers and the small and rural communities we serve. View the ARSL Statement on Library Closures.

The Oklahoma Library Association (OLA) released this Special Announcement about Oklahoma libraries and the effect of the coronavirus.

How Libraries are Responding

The following precautions and strategies are being followed by libraries that remain open in the nation, whether they are in high-risk areas or not. These are also being followed by ODL, which also remains open. In addition, ODL will be allowing employees to telework if they are able to do their jobs at home, in order to reduce the number of people in the Allen Wright Memorial Library Building.

  • hand washingFrequent cleaning of high-touch areas and hard surfaces, such as door handles, elevator buttons, faucets, handrails, telephones, circulation/reference desks and work desks, study carrels, and wooden/metal chair arms, as well as keyboards and mice of public access computers and catalog computers. Use of strong or hospital-grade cleaning products. See this EPA list of Disinfectants for Use Against the virus.
  • Cleaning of acetate book covers and CD/DVD covers. Returned materials are quarantined at ODL for 48 hours before returning the items to the shelves.
  •  Access to hand sanitizer products strategically placed for use by staff and customers. Hand sanitizers must be at least 60% alcohol.
  • Education of staff regarding their own health and behaviors. Staff members who are not feeling well should stay home. (Supervisors should have the authority to send sick employees home.) ODL is asking employees to remain at home until they are free of a fever and/or symptoms for at least 24 hours. (And that means free of symptoms without the use of fever-reducing, mucous-reducing, or cough-suppressing medications.)
  • Social Distancing (standing/sitting at least six feet from other people) should be practiced within the library building. To meet this need, conference rooms have been closed, chairs have been rearranged, and some libraries are allowing no more than x-number of people in the library at a time.
  • Persons should cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze; and cough or sneeze into their elbow if they do not have access to a tissue. No one should use a tissue and then place it on a desk or other surface. Throw it away.
  • Staff should be required to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the restroom, before and after meals, and throughout the day. Keep bathrooms stocked with plenty of soap and paper towels. Drying hands with paper towels is preferable to using electric hand dryers.
  • Post signs on hand-washing and good hygiene practices in the restroom to share the message with customers. Tulsa City-County is posting these signs on hand-washing and proper hand-sanitizer application technique.
  • Share information with customers about your library’s decisions and practices during this outbreak. Share information on the virus, including how it is contracted and strategies for keeping safe, on the library’s website or on signs.

See the example: Tulsa City-County Library System’s Coronavirus Information Page

  • Review library personnel policies for leave, cross-training, working from home, etc. This ALA page has an excellent list of topics and issues to consider when reviewing and establishing policies.


Information about Libraries Closed to the Public

Many libraries in the country are closed to the public but still maintain staff in the building who are offering services. These services are limited to phone and online reference, and curbside delivery of materials. Whether libraries are completely closed or just closed to the public, most continue to offer their online services, including access to ebooks and audiobooks, and to online reference and information resources. Both the American Library Association and the Federal Communications Commission are encouraging closed libraries and schools to leave their WiFi Networks open so that the public can access the wireless networks outside the buildings. This will not jeopardize the E-Rate funding of these institutions.


Other Resources on Library Response

ALA: Pandemic Preparedness Resources for Libraries
WebJunction: Libraries and the Coronavirus
Urban Libraries Council: Coronavirus Resources has links to Coronavirus information housed on member libraries’ websites.
IMLS: Libraries Are a Refuge in Times of Crisis


Info and Resources on Coronavirus

Coronavirus Call Center877-215-8336

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has established a Coronavirus Call Center to answer questions. They are taking calls 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. The Center can connect with Spanish interpreters. Call hours may change, so visit to check the Call Center schedule.

Oklahoma Covid-19 Resources. This page is to serve as a resource for Oklahomans to find services and information related to the COVID-19 virus. It covers issues like unemployment, vehicle registration, etc.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Coronavirus Situation Summary has an extensive collection of links covering various aspects of the virus. The page is also tracking the number of positive cases by county.

Reference Guide to County Health Departments

U.S. Government Publishing Office’s (GPO)Blog

GovInfo webpage for related legislative, presidential, and regulatory documents

Coronavirus LibGuide from Delaware state library

Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections


March 16: 15 Days to Slow the Spread The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America

The following links were provided by the Robert M. Bird Health Sciences Library at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center:

World Health Organization: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public
CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
CDC Fact Sheet: What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019
CDC: Other Print Handouts and Posters
CDC: Videos on Coronavirus and COVID-19
Johns Hopkins: Mapping Coronavirus