T he nation has been struck by a unique and universal crisis in the coronavirus pandemic. In response, the nation’s libraries and museums have stepped up in so many ways: virtual story times and e-books, virtual tours of collections and exhibits, provision of Wi-Fi, provision of important local information to an increasingly homebound community. IMLS is proud of the continuing hard work, mostly virtual, but with very real people staffing the many useful, enlightening, and needfully entertaining activities.

We are, like most federal, state, and local government agencies, putting our efforts into helping our constituencies, our libraries and museums, and their patrons through this very tough time. We are refocusing available funds where possible and coordinating with our federal partners, including the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the CDC, the FCC, and many others, to provide information, help, and resources. Our goal, as with the White House and Congress, is to provide the most immediate relief for our communities. Together, we know we can meet the biggest challenge many of our institutions and fellow citizens have known in their lifetimes.

It is a moment of profound stress for communities and their libraries and museums. However, several recent announcements are a welcome direction. Library and museum staff are dedicated to serving patrons and visitors online and at home, meeting the needs of their communities in new and creative ways. Internet providers are stepping up to provide connectivity at home for those who need it most. And Overdrive and a significant number of partnering publishers will be offering an expanded list of books and other materials for free or at very low cost to libraries—good news for those who need libraries and e-books, which is all of us, now more than ever. Libraries and museums have always been a critical part of American life, and this is never more evident or important than in times that challenge us.