COVID-19 Updates and Resources for IFLS Libraries

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Federal/State Guidance

Guidance for Re-opening

  •  NEW Wisconsin Public Libraries Reopening Guide, a collaborative effort between the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Wisconsin public library community, provides a process to help libraries develop their own reopening plans. This reopening guide focuses on the safety of staff and the community and is specific to the needs of libraries and library services during this COVID-19 public health event. The decision about how and when to reopen a library remains a local decision.
    The overview document offers an “At-A-Glance” view of the process, presented as steps in decision-making at the local level, while the full Reopening Guide provides a “deep dive” into different aspects of reopening, including an occupancy calculator, which can help a library determine how many people it will allow in the library or a specific space.Here’s the announcement from DPI.


    Reopening FAQs
  • Must a library close if there is a county or local health department order in place establishing restrictions similar to Safer at Home? Yes, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 251.08, the jurisdiction of the local health department extends to the entire area represented by the governing body of the county, city, village or town that established the local health department, except that the jurisdiction of a single or multiple county health department or of a city-county health department does not extend to cities, villages and towns that have local health departments.
  • In the absence of a county or local health department order, does the governing body have authority to close the library or does that authority fall to the library board? In the absence of such an order, the statutes appear to give the library board the authority to determine whether the library should open or close. Wisconsin Stat. § 43.58(1) provides that the library board has “exclusive charge, control and custody of all lands, buildings, money or other property devised, bequeathed, given or granted to, or otherwise acquired or leased by, the municipality for library purposes.”

Open Meeting Law and Virtual Meetings

Operations (Reopening, Curbside, Materials Handling, Library Service Status)



Materials and Quarantine

  • NEW! DLT Response to Battelle Preliminary Lab Results: 72-hour quarantine recommended. On June 22, 2020, scientists at Battelle Labs released the preliminary results of their first phase of tests as part of the REALM Project. Their research revealed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is not detectable on five common library materials after three days. While tests found the virus was undetectable after one day on the covers of hardback and softback books as well as DVD cases, the virus was only undetectable on the pages of books and on Mylar book jackets after three days. This new information lends even more credence to the decision to quarantine library materials for 3 days.

    Materials handling is very different in a library setting compared to a laboratory setting. In a lab test, materials are handled and tested as unique and individual items, whereas in a library, materials are commingled in a book drop, bag, bin, or other receptacle. Therefore, each item should be handled as if it has the longest quarantine requirement of any other item in the commingled receptacle. Since unquarantined materials should be handled minimally, we maintain our recommendation of one quarantine period for all materials, with a duration set at the longest time required to find the virus undetectable among any material types that may be commingled when returned. At this time, that continues to be a 3-day quarantine.

    While some libraries may be tempted to shorten quarantine times based on results that suggest a reduced quarantine would be adequate for some materials, we strongly urge libraries to communicate with their public library systems to make sure they are consistent with the quarantine process established within the system, which is based on regional COVID data. We consider this to be an essential step in securing the safety of library and system staff, particularly as materials move through the delivery chain.

    For more information, please see the Wisconsin Public Libraries Reopening Guide.(email quoted is from Shannon M. Schultz.

5/15 Q&A about bathrooms (from John)
I am sending some responses from Shannon Schultz and myself to questions posed during the MORE Directors Council meeting today.

Want to reinforce that you should follow the guidance/orders of local/county health officials when considering how and when to reopen the library. Additional statewide guidance from the Library Division and the System Directors will be coming late next week.

Can we legally close our bathrooms? Yes, they are not a requirement, particularly justifiable if you don’t allow browsing/lingering. Limiting the number of open bathrooms or stalls could also be an option.

What are the talking points for staying closed? The statewide guidance will provide those but here are some to start– based on space, staff capacity, inability to abide by safety protocols, just plain scared to, it’s the board’s decision.

How often should be clean our restrooms? Defer to the CDC guidelines as well as use of your building. You may want to consider asking for additional restroom cleanings by your cleaning service. If staff have been doing the cleaning you may want to ask the library board consider hiring a professional cleaning service.

How many people can we have in our building? This is still being worked on it… Watch for it.

Can we use our lobbies for curbside now that the order has been lifted? I said that if the building was closed by the library board they should formally act even to use the lobby for curbside. Cleaning recommendations would need to be followed. Shannon said–Yes, I would say that they can use the lobby. I would argue that using the lobby is different from opening to the public. If they are offering curbside and that is okay with the board, I would see using the lobby as a procedural thing. John differs with Shannon on the response to this question but I would advise using the answer you feel best fits your community and your library board based on prior discussions/opinions.

As always the answer to COVID questions may change due to new information or other guidance.



Any changes to regular IFLS Delivery will be noted on the COVID-19 Changes to Delivery page. Changes will be made to standard IFLS website pages only if temporary changes become permanent. Please submit a HelpDesk ticket or contact Maureen with any questions or concerns.

Update: 7/9/2020: More Bins On the Way!

Due to quarantine times, everyone is short on bins.  Maureen has ordered another 200 new bins this morning which should be delivered to WALTCO next week.  
In the meantime, please use boxes as needed. Or if you want to prioritize items going to fill holds instead of returns, you may have a cart of unquarantined items for your browsers 🙂
Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

ILL is suspended until further notice.

Please do not create new WISCAT requests at this time. Statewide interlibrary loan has not restarted yet.  Statewide delivery is just getting restarted and is primarily moving the ILL requests which were in shipped status when the libraries were closing and ILL returns. If you have a request for a photocopy or subject request, email your request to and we can try to fill with digital resources.
Also, WISCAT requests that were created before library closures are beginning to expire since the need by dates are getting to be older than three months. If your library has any WISCAT requests that you want to remain active, you will want to extend the need by dates.

Here are a few suggestions for the different categories:

Pending: Requests may still be working their way through the lender string but may have skipped or expired from most libraries.  Will your patron still want?  If not, request cancel. If yes, is there an electronic resource which could fill the request or info need? If not, look to see if the need by date should be extended.
Will Supply: These requests are usually at IFLS ILL office for referral to other locations. Will your patron still want? If not, request cancel. If yes, look to see if the need by date should be extended?  [Note: If you talk to patron and get okay to wait for reopen for either Pending or Will Supply requests, you may want to add a note to your request.]
Unfilled & Retry: For these two categories, determine from the history & note from GHIA (IFLS) if this request can’t be filled or if it can be re-requested once the libraries reopen. Let your patron know that information and determine if patron will still want. Is there something online that will fill the information need? Do you want the patrons to re-request once you reopen or do you want to keep track and start a new request?
[Note: Please do not resend/restart a request from the Retry category since that request will only go back to libraries that were skipped and not to all libraries that can lend.]
For many statuses such as Not Received, nothing can be done until the libraries reopen. A lot of  materials are still be in transit and we will have to track once the couriers across the state start moving.
  • Overdue status – Most libraries have extended their due dates. You may request a renewal if you would like a new date in the request, but not all libraries are responding.
  • Renew/Overdue status – You have asked for renewal, lending library has not responded, and the original due date is past. My guess is that those libraries don’t have staff handling WISCAT while they are closed.  I don’t think any WI/MN lending libraries are expecting their materials back before the statewide courier starts running.  I would assume renewed unless a library says no but even if they say no, you likely don’t have to send back to any courier delivery libraries. If a lending library doesn’t respond to a renewal request, you can assume renewed.
  • For most requests you can ignore the Overdue & Renew/Overdue status.
    Exception: If you have any items that came in the mail from a different state, request the renewal & we will ask for renewal on OCLC to see what the response is.  Other states may be on a different timeline for reopening their libraries and may want their item back via post office but you don’t need to assume that.

    If you have any questions about how to handle any interlibrary loan requests, please email us & ask.


Tech, Online Programming, Iguana Face library group


  • List of free software and services, shared by Kris Schwartz.
  • Zoom will lock you out for 24 hours if you use an incorrect password three times.
    • Make sure your caps lock is off
    • Write down or save your password
    • Request a new password before three tries and reset your password
  • Don’t have audio on your computer? An inexpensive usb mic or headset will allow you to fully participate in online meetings.

Online Programming Resources:


Here’s the COVID-19 Blog

We’ll put time sensitive or interesting information here. Look for resources, webinars, professional development opportunities. Use the search box below to search the blog archives.

CARES Act Grant Guidelines

There is a Wisconsin Libraries CARES act grant available to all Wisconsin libraries.  The intent of the CARES Act appropriation for the Institute of Museum and Library Services is to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by expanding digital network access,...

Virtual Storytime and Copyright

Virtual Storytime and Copyright

This is a topic that has been around the block a few times!  Most of you already know about the excellent and complete resource created and maintained by School Library Journal about publisher permissions during the time of COVID 19--many of those publishers have...

From Leah: You Got This!

Thank you all for your dedication to your libraries and communities.  We have all entered uncharted territory and are having to make some difficult choices.  I wanted to let all of you know how much I appreciate you and the jobs all of you are doing.   John