A Note from our Chief: Layoffs Coming to Library Due to COVID-19; Several Services Remain

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the management team and Board of Trustees at the Medicine Hat Public Library have made the difficult decision to temporarily layoff 64% of staff. But it's important to note: Reading is not cancelled and several library services remain.
Posted on 15 April 2020 by Ken Feser.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our management team and Board of Trustees have made the difficult decision to temporarily layoff 64% of our staff. 

We value and appreciate our library staff and all the good work they do to enhance literacy and build community, which is why this was such a difficult decision to make. 

We temporarily closed our doors to the public on March 15, the same day it was announced that schools in Alberta would close. Not being able to serve the public inside our building has led to a shortage of meaningful tasks for our staff to complete. Laying off a proportion of library staff was the responsible thing to do with public funds. 

The Library is not alone when it comes to staff layoffs and is following in the footsteps of our municipal counterparts at the City of Medicine Hat who have already laid off some staff. 

Reading not cancelled: Library services that remain

Even though we have temporarily reduced our number of staff, we are still providing some very essential services to our community during this pandemic. We will continue to provide a no-contact book pick up service for as long as it’s safe to do so - staff are available Monday to Friday to take your call and schedule a pick up for you (read this blog post for details); we continue to plan and deliver programs for all ages, the delivery of which is now done online through our YouTube page and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter); and, we continue to create new content for our library blog and are encouraging online professional development opportunities for our librarians.

Many gatherings and events have been cancelled but it’s clear that one thing has not been cancelled: Reading. Not only can you get your reading materials through our pick up service and the cart of free books which is available outside the Library five days a week, we also have a vast collection of online resources. You can stay educated and entertained during your isolation with the Library’s eBooks, eAudiobooks, online learning classes, homework help for students, language learning services, genealogy research with Ancestry, and so much more (read this blog post for details). 

All of our online resources can be accessed with a valid library card. If you need to renew your card, give our staff a call at 403-502-8525; if you’ve never had a library card before, you can sign up for a free trial.

What should you do if you currently have library materials at your home? Keep them. With our reduced staff compliment, we will need to close our outdoor book drops at the end of this month. All fines have been waived until after the library reopens.

Where do we go from here?

You might be wondering about the future of the Library. I can promise you that we will reopen as soon as it’s safe to do so. But I hope that you’ll continue to support us by using our services from home until that time. I personally think that library service is more relevant now than ever before. Isolation is lonely, stressful, and boring. But reading a good book or watching an instructor teach an online class or seeing a librarian deliver a virtual program, can make it a little less so. 

I encourage all Hatters to explore the benefits of reading for pleasure during this time of isolation, I think that many will find the joy of reading to be sparked or re-sparked which will continue with them into the future. 

We will see you again soon, Medicine Hat. And remember, we’re all in this together. Take care, stay healthy, be kind.

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