Like most Americans, you’re probably spending a fair amount of time thinking about what the future will look like when we are finally able to step out from our “stay-at-home” orders. And in our public libraries—like many institutions—we will surely be stepping into a new normal.

As many states begin lifting restrictions, public libraries face a wide range of short- and long-term issues. First and foremost, how do we keep library workers safe, and employed? Patrons as well. How will buildings be redesigned to support physical distancing? How will gate counts be limited? After years of transforming libraries into buzzing, social spaces, will librarians wind up behind plexiglass? And of course, amid the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, how will library budgets recover?

Complex questions also revolve around long-term implications of the pandemic. Will patrons question the safety of borrowing materials, including print books, from the library? Will parents and caregivers still want to bring their children to a “Baby and Me” program? Will seniors still find respite in a library community? How will this period of physical isolation and digital connection inform the future of library services?

PW kicks off BookExpo Online’s Library Day with a panel of library leaders who will take stock of how libraries are handling the pandemic thus far and how the public library might change in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The conversation will be led by PW columnist Sari Feldman, former executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, and past president of the American Library Association and the Public Library Association.

Scheduled to join:

Kacie Armstrong, director of the Euclid Public Library, Ohio. As director, Armstrong is directly responsible for overseeing the operation of the library, which includes staffing, facility management, administering a $5.6 million dollar budget, and providing a high-quality collection of materials and services to meet the needs of the community. She has served in this role for more than seven years.

R. David Lankes, director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Information Science. In addition to his professional role at USC, Lankes is a passionate advocate for librarians and their essential role in today’s society. He is the author of The Atlas of New Librarianship, and in 2016 received the American Library Association’s Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship.

Lisa Rosenblum, director of the King County Library System, Washington. One of the busiest library systems in the country, KCLS circulates more than 20 million items and welcomes approximately 10 million visitors annually with an annual operating budget of $130 million, 50 libraries, and 1,300 staff.

Ramiro S. Salazar, director of the San Antonio Public Library, Texas. Ramiro has served as the director of the San Antonio Public Library for 15 years, responsible for the delivery of library services to almost 2 million residents in San Antonio and Bexar County, consisting of the downtown Central Library, 29 branch libraries, and a team of over 550 employees. He is currently president of the Public Library Association.

For more information on BookExpo Online, visit the BookExpo Facebook page.