Reopening During a Pandemic: A Second Look

Reported by Pauline Afuso, Ramsey County Law Library, Sarah Bates, Second Judicial District Court Library (Reno, NV), Sarah Larsen, Minnesota State Law Library, Catherine McGuire, Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, Jenny Silbiger, Hawai‘i Supreme Court Law Library, Karen Westwood, Hennepin County Law Library

Last fall and winter, the LISP/SR blog featured posts from law librarians who shared how their libraries were reopening to the public after months of closure due to the pandemic.  As expected, there were similarities – extra cleaning, masks, social distancing.  There were some differences, too, such as requiring appointments, imposing limits on visitors, and providing remote services for patrons.

Months later, we are still in a pandemic, but now with new considerations:  vaccines, virus mutations, evolving executive orders relating to masks and indoor gatherings, new surges, and more.  We checked back in with some of these librarians to see what changed, what stayed the same, and what they are preparing for as we move forward in 2021.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

So many things have happened in the past year that there were bound to be some changes to policies and procedures.  As Catherine McGuire from the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library in Maryland said,

“I think all our procedures have undergone changes, from tiny tweaks to significant shifts.  We reopened on June 8, 2020, so quite a lot of time has passed, restrictions have been reimposed, and are now lifting again.  We learn more about the science of transmission.  And of course, the vaccine has been introduced.  The basics have stayed the same – we’re asking that visitors schedule with us ahead of time.  And the spacing of our public computers hasn’t changed, as they are set in a piece of furniture that can’t be broken up.  Until the distancing requirement is removed, I think we’re going to have to continue to schedule public computer time, since we can’t use all of the seats simultaneously.”

Pictures of the computer carrels at the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library with only three open workspaces.

Meanwhile, in Honolulu, Jenny Silbiger reported a positive change:  After an inspection by the Department of Health, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court Library was allowed to double its capacity, as long as the patrons maintained their social distancing.  They have also added two more appointment slots to allow for even more visitors to the library.  Jenny’s main concern is for the safety, health, and well-being of her staff and visitors.  She very much appreciates the judiciary’s leadership with their support of flexible teleworking schedules and building access policies appropriate for the library.  She feels

“very fortunate that our case numbers are low in the islands, but because of our limited healthcare facilities (we are an island chain, after all), weʻre always keeping our eye out, and Iʻm glad we were closed for a bit during the second surge in the late summer into the fall of 2020.”

A view of the circulation desk at Hawaii Supreme Court Library with a blue tape line to remind patrons to maintain their social distance from library staff.

At the Ramsey County Law Library (St. Paul, MN) and at the Second Judicial District Court Library (Reno, NV), much of the policies are tied to the orders from the Court.  In Minnesota, the Chief Justice issued several orders over the last year, ordering the courts to hold hearings remotely where possible to minimize the number of people who physically had to come to the Courthouse.  The library adjusted its policies to follow the Chief Justice’s mandate to limit exposure at court facilities: the library has reduced the number of people who can come into the library at any one time (from 10 down to 5) and are limiting visits to an hour at a time. 

Similarly, in Reno, Sarah Bates reports that in November when COVID cases surged, the State of Nevada relocked down the courts.  Despite that, the Washoe County Law Library continues to assist patrons via phone and email.  They plan to open in-person research appointments, but that will depend on the Court’s approval.  They have converted their in-person Lawyer in the Library program to a virtual format using Zoom.  Sarah reports:

“I do not know if our Lawyer in the Library program will ever be an in-person program again.  Not only does keeping it online mitigate the risk of having a group of 25+ people gathering in the library, but it is much more convenient for our volunteer attorneys and many of our patrons.  At the very least, it will remain virtual for the foreseeable future.”

Sarah Larsen, Outreach Librarian for the Minnesota State Law Library, also reported on some changes that have occurred in St. Paul.  The main change is that staff will have the option to work from home one or two days a week.  They plan to continue to offer remote access for their clinics.  They have gotten feedback from both attendees and the volunteer attorneys that the convenience of the remote clinics is working well.  She added,

“We also changed how we provide the documents to our attorneys, and I think we’ll keep that as well. We used to print court documents on the day of the clinic and run them in to the attorneys.  Now, we upload the documents into a shared folder ahead of time. This cuts down so much on paper usage, and the attorneys seem to like to have this kind of access. I think we’ll probably continue doing this sort of thing as much as possible.”

The Hawai‘i State Law Library’s Lawyer in the Library program also successfully transitioned to remote conferences, and they also plan to continue to keep that format after restrictions are relaxed.  They might compromise and offer both in-person and remote clinics, but it is too early to say for sure. 

Some of the changes regarding staffing that were implemented during the shutdown will continue even after the libraries are fully opened.  In Maryland, Catherine said that even with service restricted to phone, email, and limited in-person appointments, they have had a usage increase of 25% over non-pandemic times.  She’s not sure if the increase in workload was caused because people can’t visit, or because they just managed to find the library while in lockdown by cruising around the internet.  They are looking to keep the increased reference staffing because they don’t see the workload decreasing once they are fully open, currently planned for the end of April.

In Hawai‘i, the Supreme Court Law Library was able to hire and onboard a new staff member.  It was a little difficult, as she was hired while half of the staff were teleworking from home, but Jenny reports that she is settling into her new position.  One of her responsibilities is to manage the laptop access station used for district court remote hearings. 

A view of the workstation used to attend court hearings remotely for Hawai‘i District Court.

But the prize for the biggest change since the start of the pandemic goes to the Hennepin County Law Library, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Karen describes how the law library has adapted since her article came out last December. 

“Greetings from Hennepin County Law Library in Exile!  As you may recall from my past writing on the pandemic experience here, we never did open to the public but have had staff in the building since last June.  This allowed us to access our print collection for reference, offer curbside circulation, and manage the print collection (checking in materials and filing loose-leaf pages).  A countywide email came out in January indicating in-person services would fully open September 7, at the earliest.  But, if I’m honest, as the vaccination numbers began to improve, I harbored hopes of reopening during the summer.

And then it became apparent that there was another elephant in the room jockeying for space with the pandemic.  The Derek Chauvin trial would begin in our building in early March, and an administrative decision was made to move all services not related to the trial to alternative locations.  We chose to move to another county building because the county will forward mail to this temporary location. This way we can still receive titles and check them in (although we are unable to file loose-leaf services). 

Our patrons have been understanding, and (as we all learned last spring) we can continue to provide a high level of service via phone and email.  But I worry that after more than a year of being closed, we’ll have enormous challenges getting folks to return to our physical space.  In addition, the defensive measures we see downtown and the extensive reporting on the trial feel like an additional weight during an already heavy time.

But here’s what I can also say – my local Minnesota colleagues have been more than generous, whether it’s providing materials that we can’t get to or offering us space if we want to work in their libraries.  They’ve reached out as the trial has gotten underway to offer help but also just to check in.  And my colleagues across the country have done the same. It’s been heartening to be the recipient of such compassion and understanding. We’re looking forward to getting back into our space and eventually reopening, but for now we carry on as best we can.”

Hennepin County Law librarian, Rich Harrington, stands near part of the reference collection we moved to our temporary space in March 2021.  These titles help us answer phone and email questions effectively.
The temporary home of the Hennepin County Law Library, in the shadow of U.S. Bank stadium.  These are some of the books and filings that have arrived since our move.  Note all the monitor “arms” – we are on a floor that previously provided shared workspace for social workers and other employees who came downtown only on occasion and would work at any open carrel or desk.

So stay tuned – we have a ways to go before we get past the challenges caused by the pandemic. Until then, as Karen put it so nicely, we’ll carry on as best we can.

One Year Later: Reflections on COVID-19 Monitoring in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Yasmin Morais

Last March, Marcelo Rodriguez (Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law) invited me to be a part of a small group of librarians monitoring the legal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite trying to balance work and homelife as well as settle into the new work-from-home routine, I was enthusiastic to join the project for several reasons.

  • It was therapeutic for me to track the responses of governments in the region and absorb as much information as I could. I still have family and friends in my native Jamaica, so I was eager to find information on policies, statistics or regulations, and any progress in containing the pandemic.
  • The economies of this region are heavily dependent on tourism and foreign direct investments and there are other challenges related to capacity to manage the pandemic, so I was curious about immediate steps being taken by governments to mitigate these challenges.
  • As a member of the Latin American Interest Group, I was familiar with the main sources of information, and the work of regional, non-governmental and international organizations operating in Latin America and the Caribbean. This made the information-gathering process easier.
  • The project was an opportunity to bridge the information gap and to disseminate widely the emerging COVID-19 policies and legal responses.
  • This global pandemic meant that no region was spared, and therefore the information collated had the potential to provide best practices and new knowledge for institutions and governments grappling to understand this new epidemiological threat.

My first report in April looked at my reason for joining the project and a summary of the CARICOM/OECS response at that point. In the second report, I focused on the role of Caribbean Disaster Agencies, and their impact on COVID-19 management.

One year later, I am proud of what this project has achieved, and how I personally have benefitted.  More librarians have come onboard since last March and have shared valuable reports on their respective countries. In addition to their legal skills, some librarians bring language skills, so our reports reflect the multi-lingual nature of the region. From our meetings, I have had the opportunity to meet these amazing librarians, some of whom have been working in challenging situations. I have gained a greater understanding of the legal systems, institutions, policies, and challenges facing the governments and people in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, I am also hopeful of some of the best practices and improvements in COVID-19 management that have been highlighted. I am also very proud of the recognition that the project has received from AALL, and that HeinOnline has included the project under Librarian-Curated Content in its COVID-19: Pandemics Past and Present library.

For more information on the Monitoring COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean project, please visit https://lawlibrariansmonitoringcovid19.com/

About this author: Yasmin Morais is the Reference and Cataloging Librarian for the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. 

Providing Services in Unprecedented Times: Washoe County Law Library’s Virtual Lawyer in the Library Program

By Sarah Bates

For over 20 years, the Washoe County Law Library, located inside the Second Judicial District Court of Washoe County, Nevada, has offered a weekly program called Lawyer in the Library.  It is a free program in which self-represented litigants can meet with a volunteer lawyer for about 10-15 minutes to ask legal questions.  As the need for legal assistance is high and cost prohibitive to many people in our community, this program has always been very popular and well-attended. 

In previous years, we held this event as a “walk-in only” program in the Law Library.  Patrons drew numbers for spots in line, and patiently waited for their turn to speak with a lawyer about their legal situation.  Then, COVID-19 hit.  The Washoe County Law Library, like so many others, was forced to close suddenly, with very little warning or plan.  Thinking this would be temporary, we posted signs saying the Lawyer in the Library program was canceled for two weeks.  However, it quickly became apparent that the closure would not be as short-term as we hoped.  Without the Law Library doors being open, how would we serve the needs of the community? 

With staff working remotely from home, we were accessible by phone and email.  We quickly developed a live chat option on our website, but how would we deliver one of our most crucial services – the Lawyer in the Library program?  So many members of the public that we serve regularly need legal advice.  As Court employees, we are not allowed to provide legal advice.  This restriction has always been relieved by referring litigants to our Lawyer in the Library program.  Where could we send people now?  We realized that we needed to come up with a way to offer the program in a different format. 

With the instant popularity of Zoom, we started brainstorming how we could transition Lawyer in the Library to a virtual platform.  We started recruiting our existing volunteers to test this new version of the program, and fortunately we were able to find some brave souls to take this journey with us.  It was a little rocky in the beginning and took some time to get the word out to the public about how to find us, but almost five months later, our virtual program is thriving. 

We offer Family Law, General Law, and Probate Law programs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Patrons are required to sign-up in advance, which is a big change for us after offering a walk-in only program for two decades.  However, we must require advance registration for preparation and planning purposes.  We provide volunteers with a conflict list ahead of time and ensure that everyone has the Zoom meeting information the day before. 

Staff handles all technical aspects of the program so the volunteers only need to worry about logging in and providing their legal expertise.  We make sure the patrons are able to connect; the technology skills and access definitely run the gamut.  It is certainly a challenge, week-to-week, making sure the programs go off without a hitch, but it has been both successful and fun.  The volunteers and participants have raved about how convenient this new format is for them; they can attend from the safety and comfort of their own home or office.  Even as the world starts to normalize, and we eventually re-open our doors, transitioning to a virtual format of our Lawyer in the Library program may be a positive and permanent outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the author: Sarah Bates is the Law Librarian at the Washoe County Law Library in Reno, NV.

Re-opening in the Time of Covid-19: The Adventure of Hawaii’s Supreme Court Law Library

By Jenny Silbiger, LISP-SIS

The Hawaii Supreme Court Law Library’s colorful history dates back to the Kingdom of Hawaii, when in 1840 King Kamehameha III promulgated the Kingdom’s first constitution. The king created the three branches of government, including the Judiciary and the Supreme Court, and by extension the Supreme Court Law Library (SCLL).  We’re not sure just when SCLL opened its front doors, but in 1851, the legislature set aside $1000 to fund the library. 

Fast-forward 180 years later, SCLL now faces the challenge of operating and delivering public services in the context of a global pandemic, alongside libraries throughout the Pacific and across the mainland.  For us, this meant an abrupt transition to a telework schedule effective March 20, 2020, and when cases decreased—oh how I miss the days of 0 or single digit case numbers–returning physically to the building on July 1, 2020.

Back in March, we didn’t know what to expect, so we put a temporary hold on the mail, contacted our vendors that we’d be in touch with billing/payment at the end of April/early May, naively thinking we’d be in a somewhat ‘business as usual’ place after a month. (Oh the wishful hopes!)  Unfortunately, library staff had a hodge podge of home devices to use to connect from home, including a daughter’s laptop, a phone, a tablet, and personal computers.  Working with our IT department, I was able to get all staff VPN access via their Judiciary computers, and staff went into the office to pick up and bring home their equipment.  We held weekly zoom meetings to stay connected and once we were settled with the right equipment in our respective homes, we became much more effective to complete our work.  This first phase of our work-at-home/stay-at-home order was fully focused on the health and safety of my staff.

While library services for Judiciary personnel remained mostly uninterrupted in our new telework environment, we realized we needed to develop better methods to provide services to the public.  Working with our vendors (Lexis, Westlaw, and Lexis Digital Library), SCLL began offering remote access to online legal resources to our legal community and the general public.  Our public services librarian developed our Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) and launched it on April 3, 2020 (modeled after the wonderful Harris County Law Library).  Our VRD is optimized for mobile devices, provides access to the aforementioned resources as well as community and legal COVID-19 specific resources, and the public can contact the library with a single click.  Within the initial four days of launching our VRD, our public services librarian and I fielded 100+ reference email interactions, which totally energized us.  We also put a moratorium on any library service fees related to document delivery and legislative history research, pulling on our digital archives when legislative history requests came in.  And finally, rounding out our virtual resources, on June 1st, following the lead of our colleagues at the Texas State Law Library, we began offering Live Chat, Monday- Friday, 1pm – 3pm.

Due to a decrease in COVID-19 numbers (some days we had 0 new cases), our Governor lifted our Stay At Home order, moved to the “Safer at Home” and then to the “Act with Care” restrictions.  This meant that SCLL staff returned to the building on July 1st, 2020, holding our first in-person staff meeting.  We were physically open to Judiciary staff only, offering curbside checkout to members of the community as needed, and continued to leverage our virtual services to the public. 

First in person staff meeting on July 1, 2020

Our first priority upon return in July was finishing our Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) needs analysis in our workspace, something that I had begun doing with our Judiciary planning analyst, prior to the start of our teleworking in March.  However, due to stringent state budget restrictions, there were no funds to do much purchasing.  Using cardboard, plastic sheeting, and a can-do attitude, we came up with safety measures that helped staff feel more comfortable.  One of our favorite PPE is from our Judiciary History Center’s exhibit detailing the timeline of western presence in the Hawaiian islands.  We’re using some of the exhibit pieces in the staff office area and some stand in our law library, providing PPE barriers at the reference desk. 

Also, remember how we stopped the mail in March?  About mid-May, some of our staff began going into the office to manage the deliveries (the initial one amounted to half a USPS postal truck), and then once staff was fully back on July 1st, we could really tackle catching up with deliveries.  July was then finished off by putting our office and library space back together, so we could organize it and physically make it ready for visitors.

On August 1st, SCLL “opened” to the public, by appointment only.  With social distancing guidelines in place, requiring masks and hand sanitizer, we currently allow members of the public to come into the library, one hour at a time.  We have a limit of five public patron appointments a day, so as to be able to service our Judiciary staff and keep to no more than six people in the library in any given time (including staff).  As a further precaution to protect both staff and the public, the Judiciary has contracted with the National Guard, which conducts initial screening and temperature checks before anyone can enter the building.  The first week we were open, nearly all library appointment slots were filled, with some folks calling in ahead of time, others calling the day of. 

COVID check in at the Reference Desk

We are so happy we’re able to work toward fulfilling our mission of providing law library services to the Judiciary and c­­ommunity as best as we can, even in the midst of our global pandemic.  At the same time, we remain vigilant and careful moving forward, as unfortunately, cases are currently spiking in Hawaii, and we expect more stringent measures to be put in place. 

One of the things that keeps me going is that I know we are not alone, and looking around at our fellow amazing colleagues across AALL, I’m inspired by how we continue to learn from each other and share ideas.  Like Greg Lambert says in his _In Seclusion_ podcast, we may be in (various states of) seclusion, but we’re all in this together.

Sending love and aloha to our fellow colleagues here in Hawaii and across the sea, dreaming of the day when it’s safer for everyone to be out and about in the world, and wishing you a safe and healthy rest of your day.

Post Script:  Due to the Governor’s and Mayor’s (City and County of Honolulu) orders that were just released on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, which is resulting in a two week stay at home/work at home order, the Hawaii Supreme Court Law Library has temporarily ceased our in person appointments starting Thursday, August 26th.  Appointments are planned to resume on Monday, September 14th, pending further state and county guidance.  

Something that has helped me and that I’ve also shared with my staff–in terms of coping with all the changes–is to “be like water.”  While I’m not an expert Tao Te Ching philosopher, I resonated with the idea that water shifts and bends, flows and changes forms as it moves about in the world, facing different obstacles or sometimes no obstacles at all.  Water can carve paths into canyons, carry us in its waves, astonish us with its strength (and sometimes destruction), or can calmly reflect the sky.  What would water do in the face of barriers and challenges?  So as we respond to the pandemic, I’m doing my best to be like water, and every day I’m thankful to my staff who have been flexible and are being like water even at this writing.

About the author: Jenny Silbiger is the State Law Librarian of the Hawaii State Judiciary.

Reopening Our Libraries: Ramsey County Law Library

By Pauline Afuso, LISP-SIS Chair

The Ramsey County Law Library in St. Paul, Minnesota has been open to the public since June 15, 2020.

The front room of the Ramsey Public Law Library.

I read Geraldine Cepeda’s report on reopening, and I almost want to repeat part of her experience word for word – we closed in mid-March, and the Courts closed, too, except for essential hearings.  We continued to provide help via phone and email, then the physical space reopened in June.  However, unlike Guam and many other libraries, we didn’t develop a reopening plan in phases, rather, we constructed one plan to keep staff, patrons, materials, and the physical space clean, safe, and open.  Once we had this plan , we put everything in place, and then waited for the Courts to reopen.  Here is our story.

Staff and patron safety

Staff safety is very important because our numbers are small – there are just three of us.  Each of us has our own space, so we can social distance safely and still work.  We all wear masks because the Governor issued an executive order mandating everyone to wear a mask inside public buildings (similarly, the Chief Judge also issued a court order for masks to be worn in courtrooms).  In addition, the library purchased plexiglass barriers for the service counters, as well as gloves and extra cleaning supplies.  Our Director also consulted with the County, and we have protocols in place on what to do if a staff member is sick or if a staff member tests positive for the virus.  So far, all three of us are virus free.

To ensure a clean library, each staff member is responsible for regularly wiping down public areas, particularly the computers and printers, tables, door handles, the copier and public phone, staplers, pens, and also the bottles of hand sanitizer we have throughout the library.  The county shut down public drinking fountains, and we have just one unisex restroom for the public.  Given the size of our library, we allow seven patrons in the library at a time.  (We used to have tourists visit the library to see the view from the 18th floor as well as the beautiful art deco architecture, furniture and light fixtures in the library, but these tours have been suspended for now.)  The library is only open to those needing to do legal research or have business with the courts.  All visitors need to check in at the front desk, and like staff, all patrons must wear a mask.  Right now, our numbers are fairly low, so we are not limiting access by requiring appointments. 

Library materials and services

Since we opened our doors in June, patrons have been dropping off library books that were checked out last February(!).  To make sure they are safe, library staff are quarantining the books for a few days before reshelving them.  We are doing the same with books that get dropped off in our book return on the ground level, as well as books used by researchers in the library.

One casualty of the pandemic is the class we used to teach at the county adult correctional facility.  We had just started a legal information program for soon-to-be-released inmates this past January.  It gave us a chance to put a human face on the law library services and to encourage them to ask questions.  It is too bad that the program has been stopped; I think it will be a long time before we are allowed back in the facility.

In contrast, our legal advice clinics are still viable, though not as busy compared to before the peacetime emergency.  For safety reasons, we have converted the clinics to phone consultations only.  Our volunteer lawyers are eager to meet with clients and talk to them over the phone (though one attorney said he missed the human interaction of meeting clients in person).  We anticipate that the clinics will continue to be phone consultations well into the fall, if not for the rest of the year.

We are also partnering with the Court to provide space and technology to help self-represented litigants (SRLs) with remote court appearances.  Using a library purchased IPad and wifi, SRLs can attend their hearing in our conference room.

Still unresolved: patrons who can’t wear a mask

The state and county both have mandates that everyone must wear a mask if they are inside a public building.  For users who can’t wear a mask for health reasons, we will help these patrons by providing curbside pickup for books, emailing/mailing forms at no charge, making photocopies while the patrons wait outside of library.  This memo from the Southeast ADA Center and Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University gives examples of ways libraries can make reasonable accommodations for patrons who cannot wear a mask.

At this time, we haven’t yet had a patron who needs to use the library resources in the library (e.g., access to computers for filling out forms or for Westlaw research) but who cannot wear a mask because of health reasons.  We are currently working on a plan to provide a socially distanced workstation to allow unmasked users access to a computer and printer.

So far, reopening to the public has gone smoothly.  The factors that have contributed to a quiet reopening are the light, in-person court schedule, the ability to have phone consultations for our clinic, and the general cooperation of our patrons.  I hope that your library reopening goes well.  Remember to wash your hands and to wear a mask. 

About the author:  Pauline Afuso is a Law Library Senior Associate at the Ramsey County Law Library.

Reopening Our Libraries: The Guam Law Library

By Geraldine Cepeda

The Guam Law Library is no stranger to calamities — from super typhoons to earthquakes to flooding.  But on March 17, the library faced an unprecedented event:  closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  The governor of Guam essentially shut down the government (except for essential services), and the chief justice followed suit, allowing only essential court hearings to be held in-person.  The Guam Law Library Board of Trustees advised closing the library completely.  The library’s three-person staff were sent home, hoping and expecting to return in a couple of weeks.

Boy, were we wrong!  The library stayed closed to the public for a total of 12 weeks.  During that time, phone calls to the library were forwarded my personal mobile phone, while another employee fielded email inquiries.  I worked with our Westlaw representative to hold free CLE’s for attorneys and send newsletters about other online CLE opportunities.

To keep employees engaged, I started holding weekly videoconference check-in meetings and even created a “work plan” with three primary goals:  watch at least five training videos; review the website for outdated information and dead links; and review existing policies.  Honestly, the plan didn’t work out too well.  (One employee didn’t watch a single video, the others watched just two or three.)  But I couldn’t let my frustration and disappointment weigh me down.  By early May, I switched my focus on work-from-home plans to return-to-work plans, as I researched and wrote the library’s reopening plan. 

The library’s reopening plan was a phased approach:  Phase 1: complete closure; Phase 2: employees return to work; Phase 3: open only to Guam Bar Association members only, with restricted hours, social distancing, and occupancy limits; Phase 4: open to the public by prior appointment, with restricted hours, social distancing, and occupancy limits; Phase 5: resume full operations.

Since June 8th, the library has been open to the public, but with several restrictions.  Face masks must be worn by both patrons and library staff, and thankfully, we’ve had almost no push-back about this policy.  Library hours are limited, as the first and last hours of the workday are reserved for cleaning.  To adhere to social distancing, a maximum of six patrons are allowed in at one time.  Also, while bar members can walk-in, public patrons must make an appointment and give at least one hour’s notice before coming in.  The library’s operations have changed, but we continue to be relevant to attorneys and the judicial branch, by offering the attorneys and their clients the use of library’s conference room for video conference hearings. 

We don’t know when the library will go back to pre-COVID-19 operations, but we can do our best to keep our employees and patrons safe. 

About the author: Geraldine Cepeda is the Compiler of Laws for the Supreme Court of Guam and Executive Director of the Guam Law Library.

LISP Members Featured on “In Seclusion” Podcast

In case you missed it, many LISP members have been featured on Greg Lambert’s “In Seclusion” podcast. The mini podcast examines changes in the industry due to the pandemic.  Here is a look at the episodes that featured just a few of our members:

Jenny Silbiger (State Law Librarian, Hawaii State Judiciary):  Jenny says “aloha” to Greg from the great state of Hawaii.  She discusses working in Hawaii, the history of the Supreme Court Law Library, her library’s response to COVID-19 and the transition to work from home.  They also talk about Jenny’s work as the Access to Justice Coordinator, launching a virtual reference desk, and how they are coordinating the re-opening of the library.  (May 12, 2020 episode)

Lucy Curci-Gonzalez (Executive Director, New York Law Institute) with Emily Moog: Lucy and Emily talk to Greg about the mission of the New York Law Institute and how collections may change after the pandemic.  They also discuss how NYLI updated their technology and business continuity plan, making an easier transition to working from home.  The podcast ends with their seven steps to re-opening and returning to business. (May 8, 2020 episode)

Sarah Mauldin (Law Librarian, DeKalb County Law Library): Sarah and Greg talk about how the county law library staff closed the library during the pandemic and worked with vendors to provide database use at home.  Sarah also looks to the future and discusses the changes in service, the challenges to the physical space, and how they can help people from a distance. (May 7, 2020 episode)

Amy Small (Assistant Director, Texas State Law Library): Amy gives Greg a rundown of services before and after the pandemic started, how her library rolled out a successful chat service, and their collaboration with the Harris County Law Library.  She also discusses how their staff is handling working from home and plans for opening their physical location again.  (May 5, 2020 episode)

Joe Lawson (Deputy Director, Harris County Law Library): Joe and Greg talk about life in the middle of a pandemic, how the county law library staff became equipped to work from home, and how they launched a virtual reference desk.  Joe also discusses how the court system is adapting to the pandemic with help from the law library, while also working with the local bar on video conferencing software CLE materials. (May 4, 2020 episode)

Heather Simmons (Associate Director for Instruction & Access Services, University of Georgia) with Kyle Courtney:  Heather and Kyle discuss the process of mindfulness and techniques to help during this time of anxiety.  They talk to Greg about using mindfulness as a tool in your toolbox, finding time to mediate, and how to use breathe to bring your focus back when your mind wanders.  For more information on mindfulness, check out this AALL Spectrum article written by Heather and Kyle.  (April 13, 2020 episode)

To listen to any of these episodes, visit https://anchor.fm/inseclusion

Are you a LISP member who has recently published or presented?  Email Jessica at jessica.almeida@umassd.edu to be featured on the LISP/SR blog.