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CILIP Coronavirus Information Service

13 March 2020   (5 Comments)
Posted by: Nick Poole
CILIP Coronavirus Information Service


This page last updated: Wednesday 20th May 2020

Since this page was launched in March, its primary purpose has been to act as a point of information about the emerging COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the library, information and knowledge management profession.

As the situation evolves, this Information Service will focus increasingly on supporting the sector with managed service recovery. Resources developed during the first 'response' phase of the public health emergency will be archived at the bottom of this page.

CILIP's priority is to ensure that any service recovery is driven first and foremost by the safety and welfare of our members, the wider profession and service users.

If you have not already done so, please help us understand the impact of COVID-19 on our profession by completing the CILIP COVID-19 Workforce Survey

The survey is also available in Welsh - please complete the Welsh-language CILIP COVID-19 Workforce Survey (Arolwg Gweithlu COVID-19 CILIP)

Accessible Coronavirus Guidance from HEE

Our colleagues at NHS Health Education England have developed simple, authoritative guidance on coronavirus and COVID-19 in a range of accessible formats aimed at different user groups. They are an excellent source of information and a useful resource to direct enquiries.

Visit the NHS Health Education England Coronavirus Resources

Current risk level

From the 11th May, the Government has introduced a new approach to monitoring and reporting the Risk Level associated with COVID-19.

The Government has issued revised advice intended to minimise the risk of infection and break ‘infection chains’ based on the following elements:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

It is important to note that there is increased divergence in the approach taken in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Always refer to the appropriate agencies for your national context.

This guidance can be used by members all across the UK but members in Scotland should also refer to the CILIP Scotland website for nation-specific public health guidance links and timelines.

Developing a Service Recovery Plan

Planning for service recovery is a positive and necessary step. It will help to ensure that your library and library staff are taken properly into account in the wider context of the recovery of your organisation.

However, COVID-19 remains a public health emergency. CILIP's primary goal is to represent the interests of our members and the wider library, information and knowledge profession and to ensure that any planned service recovery is driven first and foremost by their security and welfare and that of service users.

Any plans for service recovery should be implemented in the context of the overall Government and public health guidance and based on a clear risk assessment process.

CILIP is working with DCMS, public health agencies and a number of sector organisations to develop and share detailed guidance on service recovery, focused on the following elements:

  • Current threat level, Government & public health guidance
  • Agreeing shared aims for phased recovery
  • Undertaking a COVID-19 Risk Assessment
  • Identifying priority users
  • Protecting staff and volunteers
  • Creating 'COVID secure' physical spaces
  • Managing IT Access and Equipment
  • Books and resource circulation and browsing
  • Library-based events and activities
  • Communication with service users
  • Communication with organisational stakeholders & leadership

Download our open letter to employers concerning Service Recovery Planning

The Covid-19 Safer Spaces project has been developed by architects to help public places to reopen safely with a particular focus on libraries and a downloadable pdf guide.

You may also want to refer to the helpful 'Service Recovery Checklist' developed by our colleagues at the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)

Promoting Libraries and Information Services during COVID-19

It is important to ensure that we continue to promote the value and impact of all types of library and information service during the disruption of COVID-19. Please see below for links to partnership activities we are supporting in order to promote the sector at this time:

  • The CILIP & CILIP Youth Libraries Group #NationalShelfService - daily YouTube book recommendations by professional librarians for children, young people and families

  • #LibrariesFromHome - the Libraries Connected initiative to showcase the support of public library services for their communities.

If you are aware of or leading on promotional activity for any type of library or information service which you believe ought to be included here, please email us to let us know.

Detailed service recovery advice

The following 3rd party links and resources may be of help to you in planning for the recovery of your services. These are not maintained by CILIP and we cannot vouch for the integrity of the advice provided.

We have worked with partner organisations and public health agencies to develop and share sector-specific service recovery guidance. See details from the links below:

  • COVID-19 Guidance for School Libraries developed jointly with CILIP SLG and the School Library Association

  • CILIP has contributed to the Service Recovery Toolkit for public libraries published by Libraries Connected.

  • We are in contact with SCONUL concerning their work on service recovery (in collaboration with JISC and RLUK) in Higher Education (HE) and we will share links to any guidance materials when available.

  • Unlocking Libraries a new guidance document from CoLRiC for use by libraries, LRC and information services in FE Colleges when planning for the recovery, re-commencement or re-opening of services.

If you are aware of or involved in the development of sector-specific guidance for libraries, LRC or information services in other sectors, please email us with the details.

We have worked with partner organisations and public health agencies to develop and share service recovery guidance from the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. See details from the links below:

The pandemic is still a dynamic situation and you should ensure that you refer always to the latest public health guidance and Government advice. It is important to note that there is increasing divergence in the pandemic response across the Four Nations. See below for links to the most current guidance:

Download our open letter to employers concerning Service Recovery Planning

It is helpful to agree with the leadership of your organisation what your ambitions are for the re-commencement of library services, to what extent and over what period.

In support of this process, and to facilitate dialogue with employers in all sectors, CILIP has provided this downloadable open letter for members to use when setting out the basis of Service Recovery Planning with their employer.

It can be useful in doing this to agree a framework or structure of ‘levels’ of service provision (for example on a scale from 0 – ‘fully closed’ to 5 – ‘all library services resumed’). This can help non-library stakeholders understand which services are to be provided and the point at which additional services will re-commence.

CILIP's primary concern is to promote the safety and welfare of our members and of everyone who interacts with library and information services, including users and volunteers.

Following Government guidance, and in light of the huge variation in the size, scale and exposure to risk across different kinds of library and information service, we recommend that any plans for service recovery or re-opening should be based on an informed and comprehensive Risk Assessment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published extensive guidance on Risk Assessment for COVID-19, including guidance on different types of workplace (including schools and educational establishments.

A thriving library led by a professional librarian or library worker is an integral part of any organisation or community. Planning to re-commence library services (or to lift restrictions on services imposed during COVID-19) is a necessary and positive step for your users.

When planning for the re-commencement of services that have been disrupted due to COVID-19, we recommend you consider the following:

  • Re-commencing services should take a risk-managed approach which recognises the unique needs, circumstances and capabilities of each organisation or user community.

  • Re-commencing or recovering services should happen as the result of an informed dialogue between organisational leadership and expert library, information or knowledge management staff.

  • It is important to recognise that a library or information service often represents a unique kind of space in your organisation or community. It is often a shared or communal space in which different parts of the community interact and share resources. This means that in addition to presenting a unique opportunity to rebuild support for your uses, the library or information service also has an unique risk profile which must be taken into account in your overall recovery planning.

  • Planning to re-commence or recover library or information services should take account of the latest public health guidance and not put library or information service staff, volunteers or service users at risk.

  • Planning to re-commence library or information services should accommodate a phased approach, recognising the possibility of having to restrict or withdraw services again, should public health or Government guidance require it.

  • Any decision on changes to services following the disruption caused by COVID-19, such as the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or physical protective measures such as screens or distancing measures must take into account their wider impact on service users including particularly the impact on equalities.

  • No changes should be made to library or information services in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19 which undermine the safety or welfare of service users, particularly children or young people, nor your responsibilities for Health & Safety and safeguarding.

  • Where library or information services are provided by an external party such as a contractor, this guidance should be used to inform a dialogue with them about the safe re-commencement of services.

Employers should maintain a clear policy on the safety and welfare of all staff in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are specific activities undertaken by libraries and information services - such as the lending and borrowing of books, providing a safe and trusted learning space or supporting non-library staff – which may require specific measures to protect staff and volunteers.

If staff need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is it important to identify what equipment is needed, of what quality and in what quantity. PPE should be provided by the employer, following the relevant Government guidance. Your workplace will need to have clear mask-wearing advice and have measures in place to enforce this with service users if required.

At the same time, senior management should be aware of the circumstances of staff and volunteers and any extra-mural commitments such as caring for or living with vulnerable people that are ‘shielding’ from COVID-19. Any planning for the re-commencement or recovery of services should take the safety, welfare and circumstances of library or information service staff and volunteers properly into account in accordance with Government guidelines.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has provided updated guidance for employers to “make workplaces as safe as possible and give people confidence to go back to work during the coronavirus pandemic”. This includes 5 key points to create a ‘COVID-secure’ workplace:

  1. Work from home, if you can – employers are expected to have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to support staff in working from home. If, however, it is not possible to deliver the library service from home, the Government guidance is that you should go to work.

  2. Carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment in consultation with staff and Trade Unions and where possible publish the results and any actions agreed.

  3. Maintain social distancing wherever possible – employers are encouraged to re-design workspaces where practicable to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

  4. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk, for example by installing barriers, establishing shift patterns or minimising the number of people in a space.

  5. Reinforce cleaning processes, paying particular attention to parts of the space used by many people (such as door handles).

It is important in conducting the ‘COVID-19 Risk Assessment’ that the employer takes into account the specific circumstances and needs of individual staff and volunteers in the library or information service. This should include:

  • Whether the staff member or volunteer can travel safely to and from their workplace.

  • Whether they themselves have an underlying condition that puts them at risk from COVID-19.

  • Whether they care for or live with another person who is ‘vulnerable’ or at specific risk form COVID-19.

  • Whether they have other caring or family responsibilities that will impact on their working pattern

We would expect senior management and library or information service staff to reach a mutually acceptable plan for the re-commencement of services which does not put the individuals concerned at undue risk.

There is no single 'right' way to create a physical environment that is entirely 'COVID-19 secure'. However, we encourage senior management and library or information service staff to develop a joint plan which takes into account the following considerations:

Providing alternatives

If you cannot provide a physical service either because it isn’t possible to implement the safety measures in line with guidance from the Government and PHE, or because you are shielding, you should consider alternative provision to face-to-face services.

Options include:

  • Discuss the provision of e-books and e-resources to support your users, including guidance on any extensions to access that have been agreed with publishers or the platforms you use for e-access.

  • Promote reading activities which do not depend on the physical use of the library space.

  • Consider creating virtual displays or other promotional activities to maintain engagement with service users while the physical space is inaccessible.

  • Reading lists - update and re-share subject lists or book recommendations.

  • Update your website/VLE pages, including considering whether there are resources you can add which would help service users make more or better use of e-resources.

  • If you have a regularly-changing cohort of library or information service users, begin planning induction sessions to help re-engage them in the service once face-to-face services are resumed.

‘Click and collect’ services

Some libraries and information services are exploring the viability of ‘click and collect’ options whereby users can browse electronic catalogues and request items to be prepared for them to collect.

While this model can work under some circumstances, it should only be used in the context of a clear risk assessment and a process for both the distribution and return of items where this does not put library staff or volunteers at risk.

Unlike in supermarkets where stock can be moved from a risk-managed warehouse to the point-of-distribution and then forgotten once it is handed off to the customer, libraries have to be aware of the additional risks of re-circulating material that has been in a number of different households.

Items made available through a ‘click and collect’ model ought to be subject to the same quarantine and safe handling measures as any other stock or resources in circulation.

Travelling to the library

Any plan for re-opening library spaces should be taken in the context of how library users and staff will gain access to those spaces, including the use of corridors passageways or any other potentially congested areas.

DfE has expressed the view in their general guidance for schools that “While in general groups should be kept apart, brief, transitory, contact such as passing in a corridor is low risk.”

It is for each employer to make a risk-managed assessment of the issues attendant on corridors and other spaces where large volumes of people congregate or pass through during opening hours.

Where possible, the plan for re-opening or recovering library or information services should be clear about how risks attendant on accessing the space will be minimised.

Entrances and exit points

In addition to considering how people will get to the library or information service, it is important to consider how they will get into it.

Ideally, if at all possible, you should consider designating separate entrance and exit points, to allow for the movement of users through the library while minimising the risk of congestion.

If it is not possible to designate separate entrances and exits, you should consider implementing a priority access or ‘traffic light’ system which allows for the separation of groups entering and leaving the library space.

For solo librarians, it may be necessary to solicit support from other staff or volunteers to help manage the entry and exit systems.

Service points

Public Health England has provided useful advice and guidance on creating ‘COVID-secure’ workspaces, including specific guidance for ‘indoor environments and contact centres’

The primary guidance remains at the time of publication that if staff are able to work from home, that is what they should do. However, there is a general view that the management of face-to-face library services requires staff to be physically present in the library.

In general, the main considerations when creating ‘COVID-secure’ spaces in libraries and information services should be:

  • Enabling staff, volunteers and users to increase the use of handwashing and hand hygiene, for example by providing ‘Sanitisation Stations’ or signposting washing facilities;

  • Minimising the ‘contact time’ spent in the library;

  • Actively encouraging ‘social distancing’, for example by taping out lines to indicate 2m distance from service desks or using arrows on the floor to encourage users to follow a particular path through the library;

  • Offering physical protection to staff such as PPE, barriers or screens*

* It is worth noting that the use of PPE such as masks may inhibit effective communications with service users or may in some cases cause undue anxiety. Consideration should be given to whether physical protection measures offer a better experience for library users.

It is important to be clear that nobody can be compelled to work in an unsafe environment. The implementation of physical protection measures should be done as part of an overall risk assessment and agreed between senior management and library or information service staff.

Space for social distancing

Many high-volume services, such as public transport and retail, are managing customer expectations by being clear about the impact of social distancing on their available capacity. The same is true of the libraries and information services - most of which operate in a fixed space and are likely to be relatively restricted in how many people they can accommodate with a clear 2m distance between them.

In considering how best to support social distancing for library users, consideration should be given to:

  • The removal or repositioning of furniture (it can be useful to tape a 2m grid on the floor and use this as a guide). Where furniture is removed, it will be important to give adequate consideration to storage and cleaning;

  • Movement control, for example by implementing a one-way system or using directional arrows taped to the floor as a guide;

  • Congestion points, such as entrances, exits, popular parts of the library or service points such as a desk;

  • Managing numbers of concurrent users (for example through a priority system, ‘one in/one out’, timed sessions or similar)

Particular consideration ought to be given to shared learning or other communal or workspaces and whether it is advisable to offer these during COVID-19. While they are a valuable and important part of the library's support, they may also present specific risks that it is difficult for the librarian or library worker to manage (particularly where they are a solo librarian).

Any support for shared learning spaces, communal or shared work spaces ought to be considered as part of the wider risk assessment for the library space.

Processing materials

There is no single process for processing physical books and other materials into and out of the library. The loaning and return of books, particularly where these travel with users to their home, presents a clear risk factor across all library and information services. Reference should be made when assessing the risks of processing materials to the following considerations:

  • Guidance on infection risks for different material types (see below)

  • Setting up a designated multi-stage quarantine area including:
    • Book return
    • 72-hour quarantine
    • Safe post-quarantine book handling
    • Return to general stock
    • An overall process for monitoring the above

  • Creating a quarantine system/workflow to limit contamination risks (so only one person does the returns process, rather than multiple people)

  • Particular consideration ought to be given to whether users will be allowed to ‘browse’ books (ie. pick them from and return them to the shelves), since technically this represents a contact with the item which may carry an infection risk

In general, the above provision for quarantine ought to apply to new stock or resources brought into the library from vendors and suppliers as well as to the loan and return of books by library users.

It may be appropriate to contact vendors, distributors and suppliers to confirm that a risk assessment has been carried out of their facilities and proportionate controls implemented.

Consideration should also be given to physical materials brought into the library by users, such as bags, parcels, pencil cases and other kit. These represent surfaces which themselves may carry some infection risk. It may be advisable to ask library users to leave bags etc. outside the library to reduce the overall risk of contamination (although in reality the extent to which incidental contamination can be excluded entirely is limited).


Cleaning is at the core of enabling the library or information service to be a safe place for pupils and library staff.

There will be no single routine that will work, and the decisions around this will also need to take into account the impact on services, and the degree to which it is practical to enforce an intense cleaning regime.

Decision makers will need to:

  • Identify main risk factors (shared computers; printers which have keypads or touch screens; desks etc) and then decide on what is needed to minimise contamination.

  • Cleaning will be needed after different groups use items, and it may be that access or use is limited to enable priority use (for example shared computers not being accessible at specific times to allow for use afterwards)

  • A cleaning schedule will need to be decided to allow for core areas to be cleaned. It may be that this varies in the different stages of opening (for example if access is limited to a single group cleaning may only be needed at the end of the day; whereas once the library becomes more usable by more people the cleaning schedule may need to increase). Use of the library may also limit the cleaning materials that can be used.

  • Responsibility for the cleaning schedule will need to be worked out, taking into account the relevant factors; availability of cleaning staff and chemicals; the impact on service of not cleaning; and the impact on service of over-cleaning (for example online services will need to continue where possible, and any opening of a physical space in addition may reduce the time library staff have to provide this).

The UK Government has provided guidance on COVID-19 Disinfection for non-Healthcare settings

Many libraries, Learning Resource Centres (LRC) and information services provide access to IT, whether that is through shared computers, laptops, tablets or printing facilities. These are usually popular resources which require careful management. Keyboards are particularly hard to clean at all times, and may carry an increased risk as opposed to touch screens.

There is no specific guidance on cleaning IT equipment at this time, and so general procedures for cleaning workspaces should be followed.

The positioning of any equipment will also need to be adjusted to meet social distancing expectations, which with many computer suites may require two computers to be out of use for every one which can be used. Given this and the need to reduce use of the computers that are left (use may have to be restricted to one user per period to reduce cross-contamination - so only one user can use the computer for a defined period, as opposed to many different people using the same computer) it is likely that some kind of IT booking process will need to be implemented to support the use of shared facilities.

The lending (even temporarily ie during break) of tablets and laptops will have to be carefully considered because of the chance of multiple users handling them; they are easily passed around and there is an increased risk of contamination. This equipment will need to be cleaned, and there must be a safe process of returning it; ideally it should not be returned directly to a member of staff, but placed somewhere for later cleaning.

Guidance on quarantine periods for library materials

Please note guidance from the COVID-19 Guidance Cell of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, as advised to CILIP and DCMS:

  • The risk from books covered in a plastic cover handled by someone who is a possible COVID-19 case is negligible after 72 hours.

  • The risk from books with a cardboard/paper cover is negligible after 24 hours.

We note that each individual library and information service has developed their own policies and protocols for safe book handling, including leaving books in ‘quarantine’ for 72 hours before handling.

Guidance on the infection risk for different materials has been sought from Public Health England (see above), but it is clear there is a risk posed by materials which are moving between households and the library or information service. This risk can be minimised by:

  • Implementing a quarantining period for books and resources Creating a quarantine system/workflow to limit contamination risks (so only one person does the returns process, rather than multiple people)

  • Safe storage of materials which still pose a risk, it is likely there wouldn’t be room for this in the library, so other additional areas may need to be provided

  • Supporting low-risk ‘browsing’ - utilising digital library management systems where possible to allow users to identify the books they want to try.

  • Promoting the use of e- and audio books.

  • Extending the returns deadline of books which are currently out to September.

Example survival times of COVID-19 on different materials

Source: WebMD(US), accessed 14.05.2020

Material Examples Avg. survival period
Metal Doorhandles 5 days
Wood Furniture 4 days
Plastics Book coverings 2 to 3 days
Stainless steel Sinks 2 to 3 days
Cardboard Boxes, book covers (not plastic-covered) 24 hours
Copper Coins 4 hours
Paper Documents Survival rates on paper vary considerably. Some strains live for only a few minutes on paper, while others live for up to 5 days

Sources of financial help and advice

The CILIP Benevolent Fund  Trustees have agreed an emergency interim policy to ensure that we are able to maximise the support available to CILIP members during the disruption caused by COVID-19 and coronavirus.

The key elements of our interim support are:

  • The Benevolent Fund has created a COVID-19 Support Fund, releasing up to £150,000 from reserves to support CILIP members experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, financial hardship due to COVID-19;
  • In order to be able to support as many people as possible, the Trustees have applied a limit of a maximum of £500 per applicant;
  • The Trustees have simplified and streamlined the online application process in order to be able to provide urgent support as and when needed

For details of the new financial support for CILIP members visit the CILIP Benevolent Fund webpage.

This interim policy will be reviewed at the end of May.

The Arts Council England (ACE) have published a new web page featuring the latest advice from Government for libraries, museums and arts organisations affected by COVID-19 and coronavirus.

The page includes details of specific support to organisations within the ACE remit, including libraries.

More information is available from

The Government has announced a wide-ranging package of financial and other support measures for businesses and employees affected by coronavirus.

Information on available support and how to access it is published at

CILIP has received a number of enquiries relating to the legal basis of lockdown and other elements of the Government's COVID-19 response.

The House of Commons Library has produced a helpful briefing in support of a Motion (04.05.2020) granting Parliamentary Consent to the emergency regulations which underpin the 'lockdown' in England.

We have received information from a number of Unions concerned their support and advisory services in response to COVID-19, please see the links below.

CILIP Information

The CILIP Board has approved a new Policy Statement on COVID-19, civil liberties and professional ethics, designed to support our members in ensuring that they can support an effective response to the current public health emergency while protecting and promoting the rights and freedoms of their users.

Read and download the full statement

On Monday 16th March 2020, both the UK Government and the NHS (retrieved retrieved 15:05, 17/03/20) advised that ‘everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading’[1], which includes a number of initiatives including increased hand-washing and practising good respiratory hygiene. The advice and evidence also strongly calls for “social distancing”, and the Government have offered specific ‘advice to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)’(retrieved 15:05, 17/03/20).

A wide range of leisure and cultural attractions are already closing to the public and moving to remote working wherever possible, in line with this latest advice. CILIP recognises that the Information Profession covers an extremely broad range of organisations and that library and knowledge workers may face extremely different situations, requirements and concerns depending on the nature of their organisations.

Because of this, it is not possible for CILIP to offer a “blanket statement” that will fit every organisation – advice which is suitable for public libraries may not always map to academic libraries, and advice suitable for an information service within a private firm may not apply to information services working within the public sector.

Many library and information services provide support either to those in particularly vulnerable demographics or to those who are in regular contact with people who have been identified as being at particularly increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19).

As a result of this, increasing numbers of library and knowledge services are already adapting their working practices to enable them to maintain their service while following the expert advice being offered to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) among their users and staff. CILIP fully supports these institutions in the responsible steps being taken to balance their individual organisational situation with the welfare and needs of their staff, users, and the public at large.

CILIP notes with concern that in some host institutions, a “business as usual” model is being maintained. We urge all institutions to reflect on any actions being taken at this time in order to ensure that they comply with the expert advice being provided to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Many library and information workers themselves are also either at increased risk or are necessarily in close contact with those who are at increased risk, and we recognise that many of our members working at such institutions are being torn between their need to follow the evidence and advice on social distancing and their professional drive to fulfil their duties on behalf of their organisation.

On behalf of these members, CILIP calls on all host institutions to follow NHS and government guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and to transparently engage with their staff to inform and discuss with them the best response to ensure the welfare of their staff and service users.

This includes supporting staff to work remotely and enabling social distancing, as well as supporting the development of more services which their library and knowledge services can develop and deliver remotely in support of their users over the coming months.

Although the library and information sector is broad, we believe that there are already opportunities for most library and information workers to continue to provide many of their essential services, and provide their specialised skillset via online and remote access. Making best use of these opportunities should both minimise any disruption to services and still enable host institutions to follow the latest evidence and guidelines provided by the Government, NHS, and Public Health authorities.

CILIP appreciates the many ways in which members are applying their expertise, creativity and commitment to serve their communities at this extraordinary time. Over the coming days, CILIP will liaise with its Special Interest Groups to identify and share initiatives and best practice applicable to the needs of specific sectors of the library and information community. Through this we hope to leverage expertise and sector-specific skills to best support our members in using their professional skills in supporting their organisations to follow the expert advice on responding to coronavirus (COVID-19), and ensure the best possible continuity of service to their users and communities through this challenging period.

CILIP Furloughing Policy

At the request of the Board of Trustees, the CILIP Senior Leadership Team are implementing a number of actions to secure our ongoing operations while continuing to deliver support for our members.

As part of this process, and in common with many organisations in all sectors, CILIP has implemented a Furloughing Policy whereby a significant proportion of staff have been furloughed with their agreement for a period of 4-5 weeks starting from the 21st April and concluding at the end of May. We anticipate that the majority of staff will be back in-post by the first week of June.

We have taken a 'whole organisation' approach to furloughing based on 5 categories:

  • Continuity of legal status
  • Sustaining basic operations including member services
  • Fulfilling contractual obligations
  • Protecting revenue
  • All other organisational functions

Based on this list, the following staff roles will not be furloughed:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Head of CILIP in Scotland
  • Head of Finance
  • Finance Manager
  • Head of Facilities
  • Campaigns and Awards Manager
  • Projects & Programmes Manager
  • Membership/Communications team member
  • Events Manager
  • Online Learning Manager

* in addition, some contract staff will continue to work for CILIP during the period of furlough.

We anticipate being able to sustain operations and member support during the period of furlough. We ask members wishing to contact us to use the Contact Forms in the first instance and we will endeavour to respond as quickly as possible.

Access to premises in London and Glasgow

Our first priority is for the health and well-being of our staff, members and tenants and visitors to our premises either in London or Glasgow. For the time being, our London office remain open for business but the Glasgow office is closed and staff will work from home for the foreseeable future.

We are actively monitoring the developing situation and guidance from Public Health England and will update this position as soon as this guidance changes.


Due to the increased risk and the updated guidance provided by the Prime Minister and the NHS, CILIP has implemented home working for all staff able to do so. We will liaise with contacts and stakeholders to minimise disruption. For the time being, we will aim to convert meetings into Zoom meetings wherever possible.

Events, conferences and training

Events, conferences and training are a major part of our work in support of the library, information and knowledge management profession, and so we have taken additional advice relating to these activities.

CILIP and our Member Networks are reviewing every event on a case-by-case basis and may need to cancel, reschedule or make alternate arrangements under specific circumstances. We may also investigate converting face-to face events into e-events where appropriate.

We are developing contingency plans in the event that this guidance should change over the coming months and we will ensure that any changes are communicated in full to event participants.

Archived resources (archived 12.05.2020)

During the COVID-19 emergency every person - including library staff, those using library books and those working in, or visiting, the library space - is advised to wash their hands more frequently to protect themselves from any contaminated surfaces.

Please note guidance from the COVID-19 Guidance Cell of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, as advised to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 27 March 2020:

  • The risk from books covered in a plastic cover handled by someone who is a possible COVID-19 case is negligible after 72 hours.
  • The risk from books with a cardboard/paper cover is negligible after 24 hours.

CILIP notes that each individual library and information service has developed their own policies and protocols for safe book handling, including leaving books in ‘quarantine’ for 72 hours before handling.

We recommend following the following information sources for regularly-updated and authoritative information on the development and spread of the virus:

NHS Coronavirus Hub –

Government advice hub, including advice for the public, employers and businesses -

The Public Health England Knowledge and Library Services Team have developed a comprehensive set of information resources about the virus, its symptoms and how to promote public health -

Public Health England are also regularly maintaining and updating a collection of advisory materials for the public:

If you are concerned about any misinformation that may be in circulation concerning COVID-19, refer to the Coronavirus Misinformation Tracker provided by Newsguard.

You can also download and display some helpful posters on hand hygiene and other preventive measures at

How to Handwash

Due to the highly localised and specific nature of the virus response, CILIP cannot provide advice to cover every type of library, information and knowledge service. You should in all cases follow the policy and guidance of your institution alongside that of the NHS and Public Health England.

As at the 20th April it appears that the majority of physical library and information services in most sectors are closed - although many have now moved to expand their digital services and to offer digital surrogates of their face-to-face services.

At the time of writing, it is not clear when the current prohibition on movement will end, nor on what basis. We encourage all heads of service to ensure that their institution acts in a way that promotes the health and wellbeing of library and information staff as well as that of service users while complying with Government guidance.

Although a majority of services are now closed, the following advice has been shared with us to help you consider how best to respond:

If your library, information or knowledge service is remaining open

  • Follow best practice on book and materials handling and quarantine
  • Consider providing posters sharing current NHS advice on hand hygiene and handwashing
  • Provide hand gel or signpost handwashing points for all users and staff
  • Provide wipes for keyboards and other shared equipment
  • Ensure that offices and public spaces are cleaned regularly and thoroughly

If your library, information or knowledge service is to be fully-closed

  • Extend all book loans
  • Cancel all events and activities (and notify attendees)
  • Notify users that the service has been forced to close on an interim basis
  • Encourage users to contact the library via email/online
  • Consider whether remote access to services can be provided to minimise disruption
  • Keep users and staff regularly updated as the situation develops

If your library, information or knowledge service is closed to users

  • Devise a task list for work that staff can complete while the service is closed to the public/users

Support for freelancers and consultants during coronavirus

Coronavirus and COVID-19 are having a very significant effect on freelancers and consultants who support the library and information sector.

To help address this, a coalition of freelancers and librarians have launched an online support service which allows freelancers to list their services and availability and library and information services to find people.

Visit the ‘Librarians Support Freelancers’ service now and register your services if you are available for work.

We are monitoring developments with libraries and information services on a sector-by-sector basis and liaising with sector representative organisations and employer groups to encourage them to act in the interests of the wellbeing of their staff and the public as well as in accordance with official guidance.

We acknowledge that closing libraries for public access does not mean shutting down services and are working with sector organisations to promote the transition to the provision of online services.

Further sector-by-sector updates will be added to this resource in due course so please do refer back regularly.

School and College Libraries

We are aware that the rapid development of COVID-19 is having a significant impact on library workers in schools and colleges. Currently, our advice is to follow the policy of your school or college in terms of keeping yourself and your students safe.

New guidance has now been provided by the Department for Education to help parents and carers of primary school children to continue their education during coronavirus.

The following is adapted from an update from the Chair of the CILIP School Libraries Group:

“School libraries have suddenly become really important as books have been flying off the shelves, literally in their hundreds, into the hands of students. School librarians, of course, risk not getting all of them back, but that was a price we all were prepared to pay.

Now schools are closed, school librarians face the part-opening for necessary workers. The Government have not clarified whether support staff - including librarians - are classified as essential workers alongside teachers or not. Some librarians have been told to come in (if not self isolating) but with no indication of whether they can therefore put their children into schools. A clarification is needed. If it only covers teachers, then support staff with children should not be required to be in schools. CILIP has been asked to lobby for clarification on this.

Those of us in schools are not expecting to be back before September. We are expecting to not only have to deal with several months worth of post and emails, and rooms which badly need tidying but which we have not been allowed to enter, but also the mental health of our students will be fragile. The library as a refuge will be needed more than ever, and this crucial role needs flagging up.”

The School Libraries Group have been quick to mobilise a range of support resources including:

Public Libraries

As at 20.30 on Monday, 23rd March, the Government announced a generalised closure of a number of public venues including libraries. In a parallel announcement the Welsh Government has also confirmed the closure of all public libraries in Wales.

CILIP CEO Nick Poole met virtually with the Libraries Minister Caroline Dinenage MP and the DCMS Libraries Team on Monday to discuss the situation and explore how libraries can continue to support their communities during the period of lockdown.

CILIP CEO Nick Poole is meeting regularly with the Libraries Minister Caroline Dinenage MP and the DCMS Libraries Team to discuss the situation and explore how libraries can continue to support their communities during the period of lockdown.

CILIP welcomes the news that registrations with public libraries have increased significantly during lockdown and supports the Libraries Connected call for additional investment in public libraries to enable them to purchase more e-books to meet increased demand.

CILIP will continue to provide online support for members and the wider sector with their CPD during the period of lockdown, including through webinars, Vimeo and digital content.

The majority of public library services in England are now closed, according to the online tracker being maintained by Public Libraries News.

CILIP is aware that alternate arrangements are being put in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and members in those jurisdictions should refer first to the guidance of the relevant sector bodies there.

Academic Libraries

We are in contact with Directors of Library and Information Services in HE institutions across the UK and are actively monitoring the decisions they are making. At the moment, following careful consideration, a significant number are remaining open in some form, albeit with limited face-to-face services.

CILIP is liaising with SCONUL and others to ensure that we are up-to-date on the situation in academic libraries and able to support our members in the sector.

Health Libraries and Knowledge Services

CILIP is in regular contact with senior leaders at Health Education England and Public Health England to monitor the impact of COVID-19 and the wider public health crisis on librarians and knowledge specialists in health.

Through their regional networks HEE library and knowledge service development leads are actively supporting NHS library and knowledge services staff to follow Government advice, and that of their employer, and focus on the best ways that our professional skills can be brought to bear to deliver evidence and support the organisations and the communities we serve at this critical time.

For librarians and information professionals working in health, it is useful to refer to Current Awareness Bulletins, such as this from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, which collate the latest updates on sources of clinical advice and data on coronavirus and COVID-19:

All other services

These updates reflect the sectors with which we have had specific communications. Over the next few days, we will be reaching out to our Special Interest Groups to ensure that all sectors are represented.

In the meantime, please email any sector-specific updates to

We have asked members to share with us link to and details of any guidance materials or sector-specific resources that have assisted them in dealing with the impact of coronavirus on their work. Please be aware that while we have exercised judgement in the selection of these resources, we cannot guarantee their quality. Please always refer to the additional sources listed above in the first instance.

Colleagues working in GLL Libraries have kindly shared the following information about housekeeping and other procedures in place in their libraries:

Measures currently being taken in GLL Libraries:

Clean libraries: we are ensuring that all libraries are as clean as possible. In Bromley, the Council is deep cleaning all offices and other spaces which it controls and we are mirroring this in our libraries with steam cleaning throughout. In order to do this effectively, we have asked staff to operate a clear desk policy.

Keyboards and screens. We have arranged for regular antibacterial cleaning of all screens and keyboards: staff are also being issued with antibacterial wipes and given instruction by the professional cleaners on how to do this when swapping keyboards back of house

Children’s toys. Many of our children’s activities involve the use of toys. We have been advised by our cleaning company that they cannot guarantee effective cleaning of toys and so we are withdrawing toys for some activities or at the least, using them sparingly. We are not sure how long infectious substances remain surfaces, and so we encourage children to wash their hands before and after using toys in libraries, in any case.

Handwashing. In order to encourage staff to wash their hands thoroughly, we are ensuring that each bathroom has hot water, washing mousse or soap, and either an efficient hand drier or an older hand drier plus (recycled) paper towels. Torque rolls have also been provided for clearing up in libraries. We are encouraging staff to wash hands:

  • before leaving home
  • on arrival at work
  • after using the toilet
  • after breaks and sporting activities
  • before food preparation
  • before eating any food, including snacks
  • before leaving work
  • on arrival at home
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Contact with the public. Antibacterial sensitizer is located at every contact point.

Information for the public. Notices providing government guidance on the COVID-19 outbreak are displayed in all libraries.

Home Delivery Services. Home delivery services take library services to the homes of people who cannot visit the library: many of these customers are inevitably older and vulnerable people, and so we do not want to expose them to the risk of infection. We have introduced a protocol of contacting the customer 5 minutes before the visit to ensure that we know whether books are to be left on the doorstep or delivered directly to the customer. Because we are dealing within a vulnerable group of customers, particular care will be taken: if possible, book covers will be treated with antibacterial wipes and staff may wear latex gloves during the visit.

Header image: Scientific Animations under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.


Susan M. Lacey Bryant says...
Posted 29 March 2020
Please note guidance from the COVID-19 Guidance Cell of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, as advised to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 27 March 2020: - • The risk from books covered in a plastic cover handled by someone who is a possible COVID-19 case is negligible after 72 hours. • The risk from books with a cardboard/paper cover is negligible after 24 hours. During the COVID-19 emergency every person - including library staff, those using library books and those working in, or visiting, the library space - is advised to wash their hands more frequently to protect themselves from any contaminated surfaces. Sue Sue Lacey Bryant National Lead for NHS Library and Knowledge Services
Tom Yeomans says...
Posted 25 March 2020
My quick look at any inanimate surfaces is up to 9 days
Nick Poole says...
Posted 24 March 2020
Hi Peter, Lesley, just to confirm that we have been in touch with Public Health England and other colleagues in libraries on this. There is no clear line on how long coronavirus remains a risk on different materials, so PHE have advised to follow basic hand hygiene procedures and use gloves when handling materials. We know a number of libraries are 'quarantining' books in their book drop for up to 72 hours before handling. Nick P
Lesley G. Martin says...
Posted 23 March 2020
This article from BBC Future suggests the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and 2-3 days on plastic, according to an NIH study
Peter Condon says...
Posted 20 March 2020
Is there any information on how long the virus remains active on covered / uncovered books? many thanks for any corroborated comments.

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