Library Staff Step Up for Berkeley

Dear Reader,

We are living in extraordinary times requiring extraordinary action. As we collectively navigate the devastating effects of racism and a global pandemic, our libraries are stepping up to provide some of the critical services our community needs.

Think about it. In a crisis, where does a city like ours find the workforce it needs to see us through? People who can gather, evaluate, and process information. Who can work with all kinds of people and bring every-day experience in matching needs with available resources. People who are by nature helpers and problem-solvers.

Berkeley found a treasure trove of skill at the Berkeley Public Library . Since the crisis began, librarians and other staff have been reassigned to disaster relief efforts for the city, everything from expanding access to food and bathrooms for unhoused community members to, most recently, contact tracing to stem the spread of the virus.

About one-third of our Library staff have been assigned to COVID-19 disaster work since our buildings have been closed, said Elliot Warren, director of library services. Now, 10 librarians have been trained to do contact tracing, possibly with more to come.
The ability to trace the recent contacts of a patient who has tested positive for the virus is critical. It is one of California’s indicators for readiness to modify stay-at-home orders. 

Contact tracing is a natural fit for librarians, said Supervising Librarian Amanda Myers. I'm ready to use the tools I've learned to contact trace. I think it’s incredibly helpful in ‘flattening the curve’ and helping connect people to resources when they're having to isolate.

Library staff have also helped city departments get personal protective equipment to first responders and others in the field; deliver meals to seniors; assist with services for those who are unhoused; review grant applications for Berkeley’s fund to aid small businesses; help businesses comply with public health orders; provide IT support; and assist in Berkeley’s Emergency Operations Center.

Most staff echo the sentiment of librarian Ann Hotta: I am glad to be able to be useful in a difficult time like this.
The Foundation is providing emergency funds to equip all our Libraries for curbside checkout and prepare for the next phase of opening.
If you are able, please help by making a gift before June 30th.