MHLS COVID-19 Updates to Member Libraries

Monday, March 30, 2020 | 12:00pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

The latest Executive Order (202.13) contains three items I wanted to be sure all have seen, these are in effect through April 28, 2020 – while the first two do not apply to all member libraries I think it is important to track any and all language related to elections, petitions and, for the first time!, LIBRARIES:
  • …Circulation, filing, and collection of any designating petitions, or independent nominating petitions for any office that would otherwise be circulated or filed pursuant to the Election Law, Education Law or any other consolidated law for any office commencing March 31, 2020 are hereby postponed…
  • …Any school board, library board, or village election scheduled to take place in April or May of 2020 is hereby postponed until at least June 1, 2020, and subject to further directive as to the timing, location or manner of voting for such elections…
  • …By virtue of Executive Orders 202.3, 202.4, 202.5, 202.6, 202.7, 202.8, 202.10, 202.11 which closed or otherwise restricted public or private businesses or places of public accommodation, all such Executive Orders shall be continued, provided that the expiration dates of such Executive Orders shall be aligned, such that all in-person business restrictions will be effective until 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2020, unless later extended by future Executive Orders…

Friday, March 30, 2020 | 12:00pm

Just a few items to wind down the week with:

  1. MHLS
    1. March 30: Sierra Lunchtime Webinar – Patron Data Entry & how patron records are used in Sierra
    2. March 31: Sierra Lunchtime Webinar – Item Data Entry & how item information affects loan rules
    3. April 1:
      1. Sierra Lunchtime Webinar – Basic Create Lists
      2. COVID-19 Trustee Briefing
    4. April 2:
      1. Online Programs When Your Library is Closed Webinar
      2. Sierra Lunchtime Webinar – Sierra Data Entry: How brief is too brief?
      3. COVID-19 Director Briefing
    5. April 3: Circulation 101 Webinar
  2. New York:
    1. Guidance issued on New York Paid Family Leave COVID-19: (don’t worry, if you feel like you aren’t  up to speed on this topic yet, everyone feels that way – we are working to get expert advice and summary documentation together for you)
    2. “Non-Essential” Construction Paused:
    3. Governor Cuomo has laid out a very stark picture for what to expect in the NYS Budget which is likely to pass on April 1. Cuts are coming. No doubt. He is proposing a rolling schedule to update revenue projections as the year progresses which could improve (or not) our budget as this crisis and the aftermath unfolds. This is not good news for the library community.

2. Federal:

  1. CARES Act
      1. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today announced that the President has signed the CARES Act, which designates $50 million in coronavirus response funding for IMLS. The emergency investment allocated to IMLS will enable libraries and museums to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including by expanding digital network access, purchasing Internet accessible devices, and providing technical support services to their communities. Stay tuned for more info.
      2. The bill lowers the amounts that employers must pay for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (enacted March 19) to the amounts covered by the refundable payroll tax credits (don’t worry, if you feel like you aren’t  up to speed on this topic yet, everyone feels that way – we are working to get expert advice and summary documentation together for you)
      3. For 501c3 libraries and Friends Groups: there is a charitable giving incentive in CARES that will provide an above-the-line deduction for total charitable contributions of up to $300
      4. For 501c3 libraries who fundraise for a SIGNIFICANT portion of your operating budget and are taking a hit on your fundraising efforts due to COVID-19 – you will want to pay attention to info coming out about the CARES Act, there may be a way to receive funds or a payroll tax credit to help with operations costs. Stay tuned.
No doubt, more info is coming on all of these items and we will do our best to synthesize it for you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2020 | 5:50pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

Two action orientation announcements today:

  1. In consultation with the leadership of the Directors Association and MHLS Board we will extend the temporary suspension of MHLS Delivery & ILL Services through April 19th, 2020 in alignment with the NYS Executive Order 202.8.
    1. A reassessment of this date will be undertaken the week of April 13th.
  2. All MHLS Member Library Directors are asked to please use this online form to update their closure and service plans.


  • The election issue for school district public libraries and 259 vote libraries is still being hashed out in Albany. Early signs indicate they are exploring a few things such as the increased use of absentee ballots as well as consolidating votes on to the school ballot for those library votes held separately. A delay of vote dates is also being discussed. Please stay tuned.
  • Libraries with open construction projects may be hearing from Casey as the state has asked that we check in on libraries whose projects are due June 30, 2020 and those who were required to start by March 13, 2020.
  • Soon you will hear about the promotion of a new site called which invites libraries and cultural institutions across the state to list online events they are holding during this crisis. We are working with the state to get your log-in information so you don’t each have to request it. We hope to have that soon.


Please continue to use the ticket system ( ) for your requests for assistance with Sierra. Your subject line should contain your library’s name and the purpose of the ticket. Please note: all batch updates need to come from the library director.

Monday, March 23, 2020 | 8:43am

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

The text of Executive Order 202.8 is now available:

“...I hereby issue the following directives for the period from the date of Executive Order through April 19, 2020:

  • The provisions of Executive Order 202.6 are hereby modified to read as follows: Effective on March 22 at 8 p.m.: All businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state shall utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely utilize. Each employer shall reduce the in-person workforce at any work locations by 100% no later than March 22 at 8 p.m. Any essential business or entity providing essential services or functions shall not be subject to the in-person restrictions...” source:

Just a reminder to use the MHLS Ticket System ( to put in a ticket to extend your due dates if you are choosing to match your closing dates to the date in the executive order.

Friday, March 20, 2020 | 5:44pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

NY State on PAUSE

The Governor has issued guidance on Essential Services under the “New York State on Pause” Executive Order:

Thursday, March 19, 2020 | 3:00pm

MHLS Director Briefing (online meeting): recording now available.

Thursday, March 19, 2020  |  9:08am

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

Guidance on upcoming budget votes for libraries that may be impacted by the current situation:

School District Public Libraries

  • In the absence of guidance from the state:
    • If you hold your own vote: Education Law 260 section 7 allows for your votes to be held after April 1st but before June 30th
    • If your vote is held in conjunction with the school district’s vote you will defer to their election officials
    • At this time, I would recommend you familiarize yourselves with the absentee ballot process.

259 School District Votes

  • In the absence of guidance from the state:
    • Given that no 259 libraries in our system hold their own votes, you will defer to the school district election officials and will want to connect with them so they keep you in their communication loop.
    • At this time, I would recommend you re-familiarize yourselves with the absentee ballot process.

414 Votes

  • In the absence of guidance from the state:
    • Please plan for your petition process to follow the timeline found in the new edition of Inch by Inch, Row by Row: Using the Municipal Ballot Option in Education Law 259(1)(b) to Obtain Sustainable Funding for Your Library [Third Edition (2020)]
      • I’d like to send out a BIG thank you to the MHLS member library directors who helped to review and provide advice on this new edition!
        • Steve Cook, Starr Library
        • Carol Donick, Kent Pubic Library
        • AnnaLee Dragon, Kinderhook Memorial Library
        • Carol Fortier, Beekman Public Library
        • Elizabeth Potter, Phoenicia Library
        • Daniela Pulice, Pleasant Valley Free Library

Special District Public Libraries

  • In the absence of guidance from the state:
    • Your legislation sets the dates of your election. If you have a range of dates you have options. If you have a specific date that falls within the call for “social distancing” or a “shelter in place” order you do not. You will be subject to any guidance or suspension of Election Law announced by the State.
      • There is a high likelihood that guidance from the state may not be specific to special districts which will undoubtedly create confusion – you will need the guidance of a lawyer to help you navigate this should that transpire.
    • Please ensure your absentee ballot process is solid and you have a clear plan, created in conjunction with your board, for communicating with the public about your vote timeline.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020  |  4:42pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

Today was a historic day as 100% of our libraries now plan to close; this was the last day of MHLS Delivery through the end of the month and at Governor Cuomo’s most recent press conference he announced a directive calling for work-from-home policies effective Friday, March 20th.

We wanted to touch base on a few fronts here as today winds down:

  1. Be sure to read the Governor’s press release from this afternoon, it contains the following information relevant to libraries:
    • Governor Cuomo will issue an executive order directing non-essential businesses to implement work-from-home policies effective Friday, March 20. Businesses that rely on in-office personnel must decrease their in-office workforce by 50 percent.
    • The Governor and Legislature have an agreement on a bill guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus.
    • Governor Cuomo signed an executive order directing all schools in New York to close by Wednesday, March 18 for two weeks ending April 1.
    • New York State is waiving all park fees in state, local and county parks. ß great item to be promoting through your social media channels
  2. Tech Ops updates:
  3. Delivery Ops updates:
    • Today was our last planned day of delivery until the end of the month. Extra boxes were distributed accordingly for your use to process returns.
    • As stated we will be evaluating whether or not to restart delivery on April 1st next Thursday. In addition, in light of director reports about how they are managing there service levels at this time (whether or not they have staff in the building or not or are providing curbside service or not) we are monitoring “In Transit” items through Sierra to assess whether or not a pick-up/delivery before the end of the temporary suspension may help mitigate the volume that would be awaiting us upon the lifting of the delivery suspension. We will keep you posted on that front.
  4. MHLS Director Briefing: COVID-19tomorrow @3pm: Laurie, Casey and I will be online tomorrow at 3pm to ensure everyone is up-to-speed on this fast-paced news week, we will chat about MHLS services, Open Meetings Law, 2020 Census, etc. as well as answer some common questions we’ve been getting If you’d like to join the call please register online and we’ll talk soon! I’ll record the session for anyone who cannot make it tomorrow.

As always, MHLS staff is working hard to keep ahead of emerging issues and respond to inquiries and requests from MHLS member libraries. Be sure to use the ticket system for all tech/Sierra/Encore related issues so we can manage your requests in a timely manner.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | 2:24pm

Laurie Shedrick, MHLS Assistant Director/Technology Operations Manager

Sierra & Encore Processes through Temporary Suspension of Delivery Services & Library Closures During the Pandemic

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 | 2:59pm

Laurie Shedrick, MHLS Assistant Director/Technology Operations Manager

E-Rate rules changes and extension: Lifeline Operations: Changes Regarding COVID-19

FCC announced temporary changes: Lifeline Recertification and Reverification Waived for 60 Days

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 | 2:02pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

In the News: “Macmillan Abandons Library E-book Embargo”

Monday, March 16, 2020  |  2:00pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

  1. At this point more than 80% of member libraries are closed or hours away from closure with clear signs more will be announced after emergency board meetings that are being held this evening.
    • FYI from NYS:
      • This afternoon at a press conference the Governor announced that groceries, gas stations, pharmacies and some other essential businesses will be allowed to remain open. The governor said he was also encouraging, but not yet ordering, other businesses to close at 8:00pm.
      • Please note that NYS has banned gatherings of more than 50 people.
  2. We are fast approaching 3:00pm when a systemwide block on holds will be turned on. Patrons will see a message on both the front of the online catalog alerting them to this as well as a message when they attempt to place a hold which let’s them know their request cannot be completed at this time and why. Laurie has been hard at work on documentation for you which you will have by Wednesday if not before.
  3. FYI: The WNYLRC “Ask the Lawyer” service has issued an answer to a question you too may have asked yourself: Can libraries, using public money, pay part-time staff if they are either forced to close due to the COVID-19 or if the employee is forced to self-quarantine?

Monday, March 16, 2020 | 12:41pm

Laurie Shedrick, MHLS Assistant Director/Technology Operations Manager

Our new Encore toolbar is in place! Patrons have more remote access than ever before, just when they need it!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

MHLS Action Plan for Delivery Services

In the face of the unprecedented spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the corresponding action by federal, state, county, local and library officials in the past week, the Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS) will temporarily suspend holds and the delivery system this week.

This decision was developed in consultation with MHLS staff, the leadership of the MHLS Directors Association and the MHLS Board of Trustees. As you can imagine, this decision was not taken lightly. A combination of public health concerns as well as the logistic realities of our cooperative public library system call for this measure to support the majority of our libraries who have decided to suspend public services during this challenging time.

Suspension of Holds and Delivery Services to Member Libraries:

  1. Holds will be suspended effective 3:00pm Monday, March 16, 2020 for all libraries.
  2. Existing holds will also be suspended at this time, and will be unsuspended when delivery resumes.
  3. For member libraries who have notified MHLS staff of their intent to close on or before Monday, March 16, 2020 delivery will be suspended on Monday, March 16, 2020.
  4. Delivery will be suspended for all remaining member libraries effective Thursday, March 19, 2020. The last day of regular delivery will be Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
  5. Delivery Services will be suspended until at least Tuesday, March 31, 2020 with a reassessment of these services conducted by MHLS staff, the leadership of the MHLS Directors Association and the MHLS Board of Trustees by Friday, March 27, 2020.

Suspension of Interlibrary Loan (ILL):

  1. Materials ordered by member libraries from other libraries from outside of the Mid-Hudson Library System’s five county region will be suspended effectively Monday, March 16, 2020.
  2. Member libraries may return ILL materials to MHLS offices until delivery services are restored.

Guidance: MHLS will prepare and share guidance documentation regarding how member libraries should handle the suspension of delivery services relative to pre and post suspension of services.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

Over the past 24 hours more than twenty libraries across the region took the unprecedented step to close their library facilities in the face of the declaration of national, state, and in some cases, county states of emergencies due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

To facilitate an orderly closure you will need our help, we recommend the following steps:

Things to think about before you start:

  • Will your staff be in the building?  Deliveries can still be dropped for a brief closure.
  • Will you be emptying your book drops?
  • Is someone available at your library for questions?
  • Is there a contact number while closed?
  • Will you check email and telephone messages?
  1. Close your library in the days closed table (instructions)Post information about your closing to your web page
    • Open a specific ticket if MHLS hosts your page including the information about dates, and other directions.
    • Provide options for patrons in the interim for holds, like freezing, change pickup location, or cancelling for a later date.
    • Suggest alternative eResources.  More information about our eResources is available in the admin section of You will need to let MHLS delivery staff  know of any changes to your delivery schedule.
      Steps: Reach Tom Finnigan  @ extension  244 or
  2. To stop new holds, request that MHLS edit your pickup location to “temporarily closed” in encore.  (see the image below) It is possible to drop your library from the list essentially, by moving it far down the list.  This will also show up on the transit slips.Steps: Open a ticket with
  3.  To stop requests from being sent to you for filling, we can place your collection in storage.Note: The process of checking in items will change this status back to checked in.
  4. Items currently out can be extended to your next open day.Steps: Open a ticket with

These instructions can also be found here: (Please note the table at the top is is our best effort of cross referencing your posts to the Director’s List, your web site and Facebeook pages. If anything is out of date please email Courtney at

Friday, March 13, 2020  |  5:35pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

As per Executive Order 202.1 issued today:  “Article 7 of the Public Officers Law, to the extent necessary to permit any public body to meet and take such actions authorized by the law without permitting in public in-person access to meetings and authorizing such meetings to be held remotely by conference call or similar service, provided that the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded and later transcribed.”

This is in effect until April 11, 2020.

Friday, March 13, 2020  |  8:09am

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

I know the past few days have been challenging as you’ve grappled with fast-paced news, issuance of guidance from various levels of government, and decision-making the face of something we’ve never seen before. I have spoken to more than half of our directors over the past 48 hours as you have made tough decisions and sought answers to inform those decisions. I just want to start off by saying how impressed I am, this isn’t easy and I know you are trying hard to do what is right for your communities.

An announcement:

  • MHLS is suspending all in-person continuing education and professional development events for the remainder of March. We will be either rescheduling events or converting them to online events. If you are registered for anything on the calendar during this period, expect to receive a direct message as to what the plan is for that event.


  • MHLS staff has been working hard to bolster our business continuity planning. We have been doing scenario testing of our plans in light of the uncertain predictions of what may happen. We have contingency plans for providing all core services from delivery, to tech support, to consulting and professional development services and all the technical assistance issues that cross-over/intersect with each of these areas. We are committed to supporting you through the weeks to come as best we can.
  • We have connected with each of our five county’s public health departments to offer help in connecting their information to the libraries in their county.
  • We have a regularly updated page of COVID-19 resources for you available at:
    • Recent additions include:
      • information from the US Department of Labor
      • a list of development questions to create a pandemic policy and sample pandemic policies
      • examples of statement to the public
  • There are two upcoming webinars that will likely be of interest to you:

Be well and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.

March 9, 2020 | 9:00am

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

Lots of new advice for libraries has come out since last week! Check out:

March 2, 2020 | 2:33pm

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MHLS Executive Director

A COVID-19 toolkit for librarians

Prepared by Sarah Holsted, Hospital Library Services Program Manager, Southeastern NY Library Resources Council

For front-line library workers

  1. Managing Stress and the Threat of Covid-19 from the Minnesota Dept of Health.
    Two-page PDF about recognizing personal signs of stress and providing strategies for coping.
  2. Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the U.S. from the Scientific American.
    by Zeynep Tufekci on Feb 27, 2020
    Offers the perspective that “prepping” for Covid-19 is an altruistic activity that helps lessen the risk for our family and neighbors and describes basic preparations that have an impact.

For library workers to share with patrons

  1. Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) from the New York State Department of Health.
    Includes the state-wide hotline for information about Covid-19: 1-888-364-3065
    and data about Covid-19 cases in New York State and New York City.
  2. “Coronavirus Infections” information page from MedlinePlus.
    Provides a summary of the virus origins, details on prevention (handwashing!), and handouts for children and adults, plus links to statistics and a site de-bunking coronavirus myths.
    MedlinePlus is a website from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in the U.S., which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The site is free and has easy-to-understand Information in English and Spanish, with no advertising.
  3. Preventing Covid-19 Spread in Communities from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
    Information about how to prepare for Covid-19 in different settings: at home, school, work, and in healthcare. Plus a page of handouts and posters for easy sharing

For library directors, operations managers

  1. Pandemic Preparedness from the American Library Association
    This page provides information about preparing for a pandemic, including library-specific policy suggestions. Also includes links to universal resources on pandemic education, prevention and preparation.
  2. Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19 from the World Health Organization
    This five-page document describes how businesses and employers can play a role in stopping the spread of COVID19 (novel coronavirus). It lists simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID19 in the workplace; things to consider when employers and employees travel; and getting a business ready in case COVID19 arrives in the community.

BONUS: “Covid-19 round-up” from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Contains links to databases maintained by the NLM plus links to other U.S. and international agencies monitoring and advising on Covid-19. My favorite database is Disaster Lit. (Public health emergency literature and information). International in scope, it contains updates and advice from the World Health Organization and the UK’s National Health Service.

Note: this is a developing situation, so please re-check the websites regularly for updated information.

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