ALSC Board

ALSC is Thinking of You and Asking for Your Strategies in Coping with COVID-19

Dear ALSC Members and Friends,

The ALSC staff and board would like you to know that we are thinking of all you as you work in your libraries, schools, and communities.  Children, families and caregivers look to you in your role as knowledge dispensers, not keepers, for up-to-date information about how to deal with many challenges in their lives, not just the COVID-19 outbreak.  You have personal connections to millions of library users and I want to thank you for your tireless work each and every day in helping make their lives better through information, connection and services.

ALA and ALSC is monitoring the development of the virus in regard to programs and will keep members updated on how upcoming activities and events may be affected. For instance, today, March 16, 2020, the stakeholders involved in planning the 2020 Arbuthnot Lecture in Sacramento, California have decided to postpone the lecture until a later date.  ALA has created a pandemic preparedness web page to assist libraries and will provide frequent communication to members.

I’d like to encourage members to engage in conversation on the blog and continue on ALSC-L, ALA Connect, and social channels on what strategies your library is taking in dealing with this challenge.  Please help ALSC members in sharing your thoughts on the following questions.

How does your library handle cleaning and collection care?  Is it different now?

Do you have a policy in place for cleaning?

What is your library’s policy or protocol for managing large events and programs, particularly during times of potential health outbreaks?

Has your library cancelled all programming?

Are you offering programs in another way, such as an online platform to connect with children, families and caregivers during this time?

Here are several resources that might be useful in your work with the public:

Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource from the National Association of School Psychologists.

Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus from NPR.

Pandemic Preparedness from ALA.

Resources for K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thank you for the work you do and for continuing to serve the public no matter where they are.



Cecilia P. McGowan, ALSC President, 2019-2020


  1. Jill H.

    There are no known cases of COVID-19 in my local area (yet). For now, we’ve removed all shared toys from the children’s area, stepped up our regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment, and made some adjustments to storytimes: we’re not using scarves or any fabric materials like our normally very popular “stretchy band,” and hard-surface things like shaky eggs are getting thoroughly washed between uses- we already washed them regularly, but now we’re washing them extra-well. We’re also not going to be giving the kiddos a stamp on their hand after storytime like we usually do- using the same stamp and ink pad on everyone’s hand one after the other. Instead we’re going to give out stickers.

  2. Meg D.

    Ditto on what Jill H. said above. I do outreach story times, and there isn’t time between classrooms for me to sanitize our shaky eggs so I’ll have to forego that popular part of our programming. Also, I have a puppet that usually greets the children, who love to pet and hug her. I will need to explain that they can no longer do that, because we don’t want to share our germs with the puppet or with each other. In the library, we are removing some of the toys from our common areas. We are also gearing up to record some virtual story times to share with families and classrooms, which honestly we’ve been meaning to do for a long time anyway, to reach more children and families who aren’t able to come to the library for a variety of reasons. Stay safe, everyone!

    1. Andrea

      Meg, I’d love to step on virtual storytimes, but I’ve always been stymied by how to handle copyright, and in my typically busy day, I haven’t plunged in to the research to see how other libraries handle it. If you have a strategy or a ruling at hand that you could share, I’d be so interested.

      Be safe, all!

  3. Celeste

    Along with many of the cleaning efforts mentioned above, we’ve also been integrating talk about the spread of germs into some programs, as appropriate. For example, before a song when we would all choose a neighbor to hug, we said at the beginning that we know kids have been talking with their parents and in their schools about trying not to spread germs, so we would all give ourselves big hugs. We’ll be offering some previously planned programs via GoToMeeting (a service that offers a free 14 day trial) too.

  4. Roxie Munro

    There are two GREAT free online resources, both with content created by many major authors and illustrators:
    1. The Nonfiction Minute: Great idea for communities whose schools are closed. Keeps youngsters engaged and learning fascinating new things with the free online NonfictionMinute essays — dozens and dozens available on lots of fun topics. Kids can read the short 400-word essay, listen to it read by the authors who wrote the stories, and check out the visuals (illustrations, maps, videos). Like a mini-lesson, only FUN! Great also for ESL students. Scroll down (website below) to see at least five at once. On the INDEX along the right hand side of each NonFictionMinute story’s page are so many other stories kids can check out for free. Teachers guides and activities too. Click here to explore the site:
    2. FREE KidLit TV – Interviews with LOTS of well-known authors (plus librarians and reviewers); Storytime and Read Alouds (authors reading their books); Ready Set Draw (illustrators doing demos that students can follow; kids can post their own drawings on the site too); podcasts, and lots more. Go to

  5. Dorothy Stoltz

    How To: Super Quick DIY Podcasting for Museums & Other Nonprofits Closed by COVID-19, from Better Lemon Creative Audio (Hannah Hethmon, podcaster, author)

  6. Roxie Munro

    Here’s a great idea in these difficult times for communities whose schools are closed. Lots of award-winning nonfiction authors have contributed to the short snappy free online Nonfiction Minute – it engages kids and helps them learn fascinating new info with dozens and dozens of stories available on lots of fun topics. Kids can read the short 400-word essay; listen to it read by the authors who wrote the stories; and check out the visuals (illustrations, maps, videos). Like a mini-lesson, only fun. Scroll down (website below) to see at least five at once. On the INDEX on the right hand side of each NonfictionMinute story’s page are many other subjects kids can check out. Teachers guides and activities available too. Click here to explore the site:

  7. Roxie Munro

    Another great resource is the FREE online KidLit TV – lots of interviews with well-known children’s book authors and illustrators (plus talks with librarians, and reviewers). Storytime and Read Aloud from authors, reading from their own book. Ready Set Draw shows illustrators doing how-tos for students (step-by-step demos of how to draw their characters or pictures; kids can also send in their own pics). Podcasts. And more. Go to

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