Pandemic Preparedness

This page provides information about preparing for a pandemic, and many of the resources are specific to influenza outbreaks.

Pandemic Preparedness Resources for Libraries (representation of a COVID-19 virus under electron microscope)

A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population. (Merriam-Webster Online). This page provides information about preparing for a pandemic, including library-specific policy suggestions and more universal resources on pandemic education, prevention and preparation. Some of the resources are specific to seasonal influenza outbreaks and the 2019/2020 COVID-19 pandemic, but can be used more universally to help educate and inform decisions on pandemic prevention and preparedness.


Library responses to COVID-19

Topics to include in an individual library policy

Professional development/training resources

Resources from ALA

Federal resources

State and local resources

Additional resources


Below are news items from ALA and other sources regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). News items will be added as they are released.

ALA News and official ALA statements:

View all ALA press releases related to COVID-19

From American Libraries:

View all American Libraries content related to COVID-19

From the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Board of Directors:

From the Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC):

From the ALA Office of Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS):

From ALA Publishing:

From Programming Librarian, a website of the ALA Public Programs Office:

View all Programming Librarian content related to COVID-19

From the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA):

From the Association of Research Libraries (ARL):

From the REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums (REALM) research project:

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    Library responses to COVID-19

    From Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe (2010-2011 ACRL President) and Christine Wolff-Eisenberg (Ithaka S+ R):

    From the Public Library Association:

    Crowdsourced resources:

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    Topics to include in an individual library policy

    Below are some topics to include in an individual library policy on illness and/or pandemic prevention and preparedness - after ensuring (if necessary) that they are consistent with the policies of the library's governing body:

    • Criteria for closing the library
    • Employee policies for sick leave, payroll and banking/financial issues, working from home
    • Mandated documentation of procedures or cross training so others can take over for sick employees.
    • Policies for social distancing -- that is, removing a number of chairs so people aren't sitting close to each other, or limiting the number of people who can come in at any one time, or taking out coat racks, and similar things that keep people and their belongings separate from each other.
    • Criteria for suspending story times and other library programs.
    • Provision of masks and gloves along with the training of staff in their removal and disposal.
    • Standards for the cleaning of bathrooms, railings and door knobs, telephones, keyboards, counters, and cleaning of workstations/offices of employees who go home sick, emptying of wastebaskets, etc.
    • Setting a schedule for seeing to the critical needs of the facility if the library is closed for an extended time (boiler and building checks by custodians, book drop, payroll and banking considerations).
    • Communications plan for reaching staff and for communicating with the public
    • Means for continuing to provide information services for the public, such as digital reference, online materials access and expansion of other online resources
    • Accommodation of the needs of people in the community who rely on library resources
    • Education of the public in advance of an epidemic
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    Professional development/training resources

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    Resources from ALA

    Recording: ALA Connect Live: COVID-19 and the Library Community Response from 4.23.20

    From the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL):

    From the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee:

    From the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS):

    From the Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA):

    • A COVID-19 Resources page, including a section of resources specifically for children and teens

    From the ALA Chapter Relations Office (CRO):

    From the Public Library Association (PLA):

    • A PLA Resources on COVID-19 webpage, with information for public librarians to consider at their libraries, communities and families respond to the COVID-19 crisis

    From the Public Policy and Advocacy office (PPA):

    Federal resources

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers many resources on the prevention, treatment and national impact of influenza and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), including:

    From the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

    The National Library of Medicine (NLM) provides a self-paced course on setting up a Continuity of Operations Plan, as well as multiple resources on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.

    A U.S. Department of Education COVID-19 resource page includes guidance specific to elementary, secondary, and higher education settings.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) resource page, with a listing of fast facts and frequently asked questions.

    From the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO):

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    State and local resources

    From the CDC:

    Some other helpful resources from state and local agencies:

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    Additional resources

    Resources on disinfecting books, practicing good hygiene and keeping workspaces clean and disinfected:

    Mental health resources to help with pandemic-related fears and anxiety:

    From the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), a continually updated page of downloadable translated language resources to help libraries communicate with their communities

    PSA/Promotional resources:

    Resources for children and young adults:

    Resources for older adults:

    Resources from the World Health Organization (WHO):

    Resources from the Mayo Clinic:

    From Unicef:

    The Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering has a global map of COVID-19 cases, updated in near real-time and with data available for download.

    Further reading:

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    Have a resource to share? Send us an email.

    Page updated June 30, 2020

    Image by Felipe Esquivel Reed used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.