• Analysis and Commentary on Public Library Services' Digital Reinvention During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

    Isadore Auerbach George (see profile)
    Public libraries, Library science, Information science, Digital libraries, Computer literacy, Libraries
    Item Type:
    pandemic, covid-19, Digital culture, Digital literacy
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    The advent of digital technologies has caused significant disruption to the operations of public libraries. The Internet-connected user can access information and e-books instantly online, throwing the role of the public library into question. Libraries have responded in different ways: some have focused on expanding digital collections and remote access (Stack, 2019); others have attempted to rebrand libraries as leading implementers of the digital shift through Internet provision and digital literacy (Howard, 2019); and lastly, yet others have focused on the analogue social infrastructure that public libraries can offer, akin to spaces such as community centres (Calhoun, 2014, p. 146). Yet whether a public library system has chosen one of these directions or a blend, by 2020 most seem to have concluded that at least some physical instantiation of the service is still key. On the 23rd March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all public libraries in England to close their doors in an effort to control the Covid-19 pandemic (Chandler, 2020). But most of these libraries did continue to provide services, just online (Anstice, 2020). The existing trends in library digitisation are now subject to new pressures: an increased urgency and acceleration around digital infrastructure, e.g. the “Single Digital Presence” of one website and e-resource platform for all UK public libraries (Fredrickson, 2020); an increased need for digital and information literacy to combat the “infodemic” of misinformation co-morbid with COVID-19 (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, 2020); and an expanded emphasis on the unique benefits of physical and community services highlighted by these programmes’ abrupt cession.
    Completed in August of 2020, in the context of a first UK national lockdown, towards completion of #CityLIS' 'Digital Libraries' module.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago


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