ALA Recommends Libraries Leave Wi-Fi Open During Closures

The American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board released the following recommendation on March 23 to libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Our current crisis demands extraordinary measures. As most states and the federal government declare states of emergency, we appreciate that libraries and other public facilities have closed temporarily to support critical social distancing efforts. Our top priority and concern is the health and safety of our library staffs and the diverse communities we serve.

As we stated last week, service and stewardship to our communities are core to the library profession. We continue to see this every day even as library buildings close to the public but often sustain or grow their virtual services and resources freely available to all.

But we also are painfully aware that America’s 16,557 public library locations are essential nodes in our nation’s digital safety net—connecting people with no-fee access to computers and the internet, lending internet hotspots and devices, and providing digital literacy training and expansive learning and enrichment digital collections for all ages. The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting this safety net and spotlighting the persistent digital gaps for more than 20 million people in the United States, including millions of school-age children and college students forced out of classrooms and many more workers also displaced.

Libraries can and should leave their Wi-Fi networks on even when their buildings are closed wherever possible. As we have noted to the Federal Communications Commission, ALA believes a 2010 order from the commission permits this use without jeopardizing E-Rate funding that many public libraries and schools rely on to sustain and build their broadband capacity. In these unprecedented times, we should take whatever steps we can to leverage our resources to maximize benefit to our communities—particularly for those with the fewest resources.

ALA has long been at the forefront of promoting broadband equity for all and continues to work in coalition to expand the capacity of libraries, schools, colleges and universities, and other community anchor institutions to strengthen our digital networks. We will continue to advocate for digital inclusion for all today and in the future.

Scholarship Report: Beth Anderson – Public Library Association Conference

Event: Public Library Association Conference

Attendee: Beth Anderson – Director, Preston Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

Being a library director at a small library I’m involved in all aspects of the library. I looked for sessions that related to our library. The exhibits helped me find new products.


What was your favorite session you attended and why?

It is really hard to pick a favorite session. There were a few session that were really good. The one on dementia gave many ideas for hosting programs at the library and going to senior facilities. The other one I really liked was called Bringing Technology & Arts to Senior Adults. We do have an aging population and I would really like to find ways to engage them in various activities. This session talked about STEAM, Arts and Technology for Seniors. All these activities help to increase socialization. Virtual reality was found to bring memory recall!


What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

The PLA conference this year was all about diversity and inclusion. It was about helping people access the information and resources they need. It emphasized the acknowledgement of experiences different from your own, and showing respect to those different from you. In the various sessions and interactions, there was always an element of openness and acceptance, even down to the books in the publishers’ booths. I have always felt a bit of pride working for the library because aside from the emergency services, it’s a place for everyone, no exceptions. It was nice to be reminded of the privilege we have of being a part of that type of service to our communities. The conference this year was an inspiring reminder of that. It feels good to return home with new energy and excitement for the job.


What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

Only one idea!! There is so much I hope to implement, but i know that realistically I need to focus on only a couple right now. For our library I think going to one or both of the assisted living homes may be best but I do plan on talking to them also to see if it would be feasible for them to bring the residents in their van to the library. Whatever we do I would like to partner with those places to provide them with additional activities.


Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this conference. There is so much to learn, so many new ideas.

ALA Executive Board Recommends Closing Libraries to Public

The American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board released this statement March 17 in support of libraries and library workers during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The ALA Executive Board unequivocally stands in support of the safety and well-being of library workers and the communities we serve. To protect library workers and their communities from exposure to COVID-19 in these unprecedented times, we strongly recommend that academic, public, and school library leaders and their trustees and governing bodies evaluate closing libraries to the public and only reopening when guidance from public health officials indicates the risk from COVID-19 has significantly subsided.

It is very difficult for us to put forward this recommendation. Libraries pride themselves on being there during critical times for our communities. We are often the only institutions to remain open during times of crisis. Service and stewardship to our communities are core to our profession.

We have weighed the situation of our country and what has happened in other countries around the world. The health of our library workers and the communities we serve is of utmost and equal importance. Libraries are by design unable to practice social distancing to the degree recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities. Keeping libraries open at this time has the potential to harm communities more than help. We underscore the importance and need to come together in this crisis and commit to ensuring our libraries, which provide so many important services to our communities, do not serve as vectors for a fast-moving pandemic.

Libraries are responding creatively and proactively to this crisis. School libraries in many states have closed along with schools and many have plans to provide online classes to students. Public libraries are making virtual resources available and considering other ways they can help during the crisis. Academic libraries are providing online services and access to resources. All libraries are working with their school administrators, governments, boards, and university administrations to determine critical services and closures following local directives.

Additionally, and in alignment with our companion organization, the ALA–Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), we encourage libraries to ensure that all library workers receive fully paid leave, including health coverage, while libraries are closed.

Although closing a library is a local decision, we urge library administrators, local boards, and governments to close library facilities until such time as library workers and our communities are no longer at risk of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The ALA Executive Board is committed to supporting our library workers, ALA members, and the communities we serve during these challenging and uncertain times.

For more information about ALA resources on COVID-19, visit

SELCO Seeks Researcher for History of SELCO Region

SELCO has been awarded a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society for the research phase of a history of the SELCO region to commemorate its fiftieth anniversary in 2021.  The SELCO Board of Directors is accepting proposals from interested and qualified individuals to conduct the research.  The Request for Qualifications and Proposal can be found HERE.  Any questions may be directed to Krista Ross, SELCO Executive Director at or at 507-288-5513, ext. 3.

CANCELLED: YSIE Spring Meeting

Due to low ability to attend, the Spring Youth Services Idea Exchange (YSIE) meeting set for Friday, April 12, 2019 has been cancelled.  Thanks to all who responded if they could attend or not.  A Doodle poll will be forthcoming to help determine a reschedule date.  If you have any other questions regarding YSIE, please contact our Consulting department.

New Help Desk Starts on Monday, March 18

SELCO is launching the new Help Desk on Monday, March 18, 2019.

So what’s the new Help Desk going to look like?

  • Extended Help Desk Hours:  M-F 8:30 am to 7 pm and Saturdays 9 am to 1:30 pm
  • “Emergency” Help Desk call hours outside of regularly scheduled HD hours  (we’ll be working with you to define what “emergency” means, so just use the “urgent” definition for now)
  • Dedicated Help Desk staff:  Bob Olson ( M-F 8:30-2 & every other Saturday) and Emmanuel Deng (M-F 2-7 & every other Saturday)

We’re excited about the potential of this new Help Desk structure to provide a more consistent experience for all, identify patterns and needs more quickly.

I would encourage everyone to reach out with any questions or concerns that you may have.  Your feedback is very important!

CANCELLED: All Delivery Routes on 2.25.19

Due to the poor driving conditions and road closures, delivery has been cancelled for all routes on Monday, February 25th.  We thank you for your understanding.  If you have any questions, please contact the SELCO office.

CANCELLED: PLC Meeting for 2.25.19

Due to the poor winter driving conditions the Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting for Monday, February 25, 2019 has been cancelled.
Olmsted County had declared a state of emergency and has urged all citizens to stay home.  This means that as of writing this, all the plows in the city and county have been pulled from the roads and that the National Guard had been called in to pull anyone off the roads who had gotten themselves stuck.  It is currently unknown as to when the emergency state will be lifted.  For your safety, we want to make sure that no one attempts to try and drive in these conditions.
Please take care and be safe.  Should you have any questions feel free to contact the SELCO/SELS office.

CANCELLED: All Delivery Routes on 2.20.19

Due to the bad weather and poor driving conditions, delivery has been cancelled for all routes on Wednesday, February 20th.  We thank you for your understanding.  Please contact the SELCO office you have any questions.