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Quiet in the Library: Libraries During a Pandemic

Like other public serving institutions, libraries are navigating the uncharted COVID-19 waters to see how they can safely and responsibly live up to their mandate to connect the public with information and support. Given that most people are sheltering in place as part of stay-at-home orders, it may be hard to know what your local library is doing in order to maintain a sense of normalcy during this period. That is where social media comes in. But how can we get a larger sense of what more libraries are doing and how people are reacting to that? That is where Social Studio comes into play.

Searching for tweets that include “Library” AND “Coronavirus” (just one of many words you could use to describe the pandemic) via Social Studio resulted in 8,000 hits. As the image below shows, libraries are being discussed in many contexts as it relates to Coronavirus. Searching through these top words can help searchers find interesting topics such as what libraries are doing to help business during this period.

Word cloud of top words associated with libraries and coronavirus.

Top words related to Tweets that include libraries and Coronavirus. Source: Social Studio

Business is not necessarily a term that people connect with their public library, usually a government or non-profit entity, but libraries like the Brooklyn Public Library are not letting the Coronavirus slow their support for business down too much. Their #PowerUp! initiative which provides financial support to start up startups is continuing as an online contest.

The library in Youngstown, Ohio is currently providing online assistance to small businesses trying to do work and stay afloat during this uncertain time.

Businesses may also benefit from general services such as those being offered in many libraries currently. A scan of the Tweets show how many public libraries are “opening their doors” online to help businesses and individuals with their information needs. Also, several tweets discuss how online use of the library is high despite the physical doors being closed in most cases.

So libraries continue to support their communities in ways that are safe and doable for patrons and librarians alike. The examples shown here are just a few of the many identifiable in Social Studio related to business as well as many other topics. Even though the physical library may be quiet in your community, the work continues online and innovative, and community transformative ways. Look more into what your public library is currently doing or making available during this pandemic. You may be surprised by what you discover!