ABC News places spotlight on libraries’ response to COVID-19

For Immediate Release
Thu, 06/11/2020


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


CHICAGO- Today Public Library Association (PLA) President Ramiro Salazar appeared as a guest on "Pandemic: What You Need to Know," a new ABC Network program temporarily replacing the third hour of Good Morning America. This national news segment focused on how libraries are responding to challenges fueled by COVID-19, detailed in findings from Libraries Respond: COVID-19 Survey, a comprehensive survey of academic, public, and school libraries.

The Survey documents a shift in services to support students, faculty, and communities at large during the pandemic and phased preparations for the months ahead. While virtually all libraries (99%) report limited access to the physical buildings, survey respondents reported leaps in the use of digital content, online learning, and virtual programs. More than 3,800 K-12 school, college and university, public and other libraries from all 50 states responded to the survey between May 12-18.

“What this crisis has emphasized is that we still have a digital divide that impacts communities that need access the most,” explained Salazar to "Pandemic: What You Need to Know" Host Amy Robach. “The challenge for public libraries is how do we continue to provide access to the internet for communities in need? Most public libraries are keeping their wi-fi signal on to provide internet access from our parking lots. Some libraries also are deploying vehicle hot spots to communities that needed it the most.” 

Survey responses show that libraries are involved in community crisis response, cautiously planning for re-opening facilities, working to meet the educational needs of students and researchers, reporting increased use of digital services, and anticipating future demands.

In mid-March, ABC introduced "Pandemic: What You Need to Know," a news show dedicated solely to covering the latest developments related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Since its inception in March of 2020, the program has attracted more than 40 million viewers, with an average of 2.5 million viewers per episode.  Its digital footprint is just as impressive, with the program reaching more than 270 million viewers through ABC News Live.   

"Pandemic: What You Need to Know" airs weekdays at 1 p.m. ET | noon PT/CT on ABC, temporarily replacing "GMA3: Strahan, Sara & Keke." The program also streams at 4 p.m. ET  and 8 p.m. ET on ABC News Live and is distributed through the website and mobile apps. ABC News Live also is available through streaming services like Hulu and YouTube TV and OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku.   

The American Library Association’s Communications and Marketing Office and Public Library Association worked in tandem to make today’s segment possible.

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