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COVID-19: Reopening

Information about Connecticut library responses to the coronavirus, as well as links to other COVID-19 sites for libraries and Connecticut.

Reopening Rules for Libraries

See information on lifting of business sector rules and easing of mask restrictions starting May 19, 2021.

See information on eased restrictions and Library Sector Rules starting March 19, 2021.

See rules on the Phase 3 Reopening starting October 8, 2020.

See the Phase 2 Reopen Rules by Sector (for June 17 opening) and the Sector Rules for Libraries [pdf] as of March 19, 2021

Governor's Re-opening Rules for Public Libraries

The Division of Library Development offered three information sessions about these new rules with Maureen Sullivan, Interim State Librarian, and Dawn La Valle, Director, Division of Library Development. View the recordings:

Follow-Up: Governor's Re-opening Rules for Public Libraries

REALM Project Information Session for CT Libraries

COVID 19 Pandemic and Connecticut Libraries Resources & Panel Discussion Recording

Connecticut Libraries Roadmap to Re-Opening and Recovery

Connecticut Libraries Roadmap to Re-Opening and Recovery

Connecticut’s Libraries have been closed to the public since Covid-19 impacted Connecticut and Governor Lamont issued the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” Executive Order. Most libraries have posted, “Closed until further notice.” We all need to think strategically and plan accordingly about how to return to full service in a safe and healthy manner and in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders and local government directives. Libraries should be nimble in their planning and developing of  scenarios in the event of a virus outbreak flare up requiring quick response.

Resources for COVID-19 Information:
1. COVID-19 information specific to Connecticut
2. CSL/DLD’s COVID-19 LibGuide 
3. Institute of Museum and Library Services Research Partnership to Inform Safe Handling of Collections, Reopening Practices for Libraries, Museums 

We know that Covid-19 will continue to be a serious public health concern in Connecticut and nationwide.

The following is a recommended phased roadmap for reopening Connecticut’s libraries in four stages. These recommendations are preliminary, and are subject to change as the situation develops as the Governor's Office issues updates and guidance. 

The Connecticut State Library, Division of Library Development is there for you.

Stage 1: Minimal Staff in Buildings during the Ongoing Health Emergency:


  • Where possible the majority of staff should be teleworking contingent on the directives of the Governor and local government.
  • Staff working in the building should be observing social distancing. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves and masks should be worn in the building.
  • All staff in and outside of the building work on their assigned duties, including fiscal, personnel, and statistical tasks as usual.
  • In-building staff receive and sort mail observing safe handling protocol.
  • The Library Admin Team should work with local government, public health officers and in some cases library boards to determine the best methods to offer teleworking, and what to do if the public is not in the building but some staff is. Provide teleworking staff with adequate technology and support.
  • Job duties are determined or modified if staff is to stay working during the health crisis.
  • Staff and supervisors determine whether telework is appropriate and are provided resources.
  • Use video and phone conferencing, social media, and other internet platforms to offer services and programs to patrons virtually.


  • While it is highly recommended that book drops be closed, if the book drop remains open, staff should observe materials sanitizing or quarantine protocol documenting when the book was returned. Use PPE to handle any incoming materials. Refer to the REALM Project for more information.
  • Monitor building for security issues and building systems operations.
  • Conduct check of all fire equipment including alarms, extinguishers, and all other fire protection equipment.
  • Sanitize entire building prior to next stages of re-opening.
  • Janitorial services revised to reflect closure to public and precautions for virus management.
  • Library staff assess and develop a place to reconfigure public and staff workspace to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Increase ordering of PPE and sanitizing supplies; develop a reliable supply chain in coordination with municipality,


  • Make sure the integrated library system (ILS) system is up and running, and other online services are operational and accessible.
  • Ensure that Wi-Fi is accessible to the community.
  • Assess the library’s capacity to provide additional access points and equipment to boost Wi-Fi signal​ for wider accessibility inside and outside the library.
  • Continue to offer virtual programs, services and resources.

Strategy: This is an opportunity to engage your staff in professional development opportunities; to assess library operations, policies and procedures; to develop strategic focus plan to prepare for 12-18 months of recovery and to begin to develop advocacy talking points for the library's budget during this health and economic crisis.

The Connecticut State Library, Division of Library Development is there for you.

Stage 2: Most Staff Return to Work in Buildings in compliance with the Governor’s directives. Libraries must first and foremost abide by their local government's directives.


  • Staff with special health considerations may need to continue to telework.
  • Staff work routines are modified to ensure social distancing safe handling of materials and eventual interaction with the general public.
  • Staff provided clear instructions regarding social distancing and safety including the use of face masks. Library should provide the appropriate supplies to ensure safety.
  • Staff should return to the building at least a week prior to partial opening to the public to ensure training in all safety protocols and staff assessment of their work area.
  • Ensure that the mental and emotional needs of staff are met.
  • Restrict volunteers, interns and other non-library personnel.


  • Staff prepare for opening to public in stages and in accordance with the Governor's social distancing directives for public spaces.
  • Staff work areas and public areas may need to be modified to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Marking the floor at 6ft intervals with tape similar to what grocery stores are doing is advisable.
  • Re-configure flow of traffic in library from entrance to exit. This can be challenging if the library only has one entry/exit point, monitoring of the entrance by security or a staff member will have to be considered.
  • Determine whether public areas need additional cleaning.
  • The Governor’s modified directives may require the installation of protective plexiglass shields at public service desks and counters. The library needs to be prepared to install these.
  • Library Director with the input of the library board should assess revision of room rental policies and general Patron Code of Conduct policies to ensure social distancing protocols are followed.
  • Maintain PPE and sanitizing supply chain to ensure adequate supplies to support an open public space.


  • Staff catches up on library materials returned by users: check in, mending, holds, notes, etc.
  • Books continue to be quarantined before handling and checking them in. Refer to the REALM Project for more information.
    • Use gloves to handle any incoming materials.
    • Ensure sanitizing supplies on hand for library materials that have been returned.
  • Test all public facing equipment to ensure it is in working order.
  • Assess the need for wireless printing capability throughout public spaces. ​
  • Continue to offer virtual programs, services and resources.
  • Assess which virtual programs and services the library should consider continuing online even after full public service is restored. 

Strategy: Draft or revise existing marketing communications plan to highlight what your library has been doing to serve your community during the pandemic and what your community should expect as the library begins the re-opening process.

The Connecticut State Library, Division of Library Development is there for you.

Stage 3: Limited Public Service Restored as Health Emergency Continues to Ease.


  • Ensure staff is trained in all aspects of social distancing protocol.
  • Ensure staff has the resources and support to deal with patrons that have experienced trauma.
  • Ensure patrons with special needs are accommodated safely.
  • Children and young adults will present a unique challenge.
    • Provide children and young adults the same information as adults.
    • Consider developing programming for children focused on social distancing.
    • Begin planning for revised programming, story time and interactive play areas within the library.
    • Post clear signage about washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
  • Continue restriction of volunteers, interns, and other non-library personnel with the exception of contractors as needed.
  • Continue to monitor CDC and other entities for updated guidelines.
  • Consider providing PPE including masks for patrons who may not have access to these items.
  • Continue and increase online programming.  
  • Implement limited, low contact outreach services.  
  • Implement limited, low contact in house programming where feasible.
  • In anticipation of potential future closures, update policies and procedures as needed. Library administrations and library boards may need to consider asking for legal consultation regarding certain measures and changes they choose to implement in their libraries.


  • Buildings gradually open to public within the Governor's and local government's directives:
    • Implement social distancing protocol:
      • limit number of people in buildings
      • limit seating for the public, and
      • provision of adequate public area sanitation supplies throughout the library.
  • Clear signage with social distancing protocol or preferably adopted social distancing policies.
  • Provide at least six feet of distance all the way around between your computer terminals; seating areas:
    • Directional signs, floor tape indicating safe distances.
    • Take computers and any excess furniture out of public space that are too close together and reconfigure space where able with temporary tables using your Wi-Fi service and a plug.
  • Installation of plexiglass shields at public service desks and counters.


  • Wireless available throughout building
  • Reference, holds, and interlibrary loan restored.
  • Books continue to be quarantined upon return to the library until restrictions are lifted and the Covid-19 disease is considered resolved. Refer to the REALM Project for more information.

STRATEGIES: Develop a comprehensive public safety information plan and broadcast widely via social media, signs, announcements to ensure that patrons fully understand social distancing protocol within the library, expectations and any new policies. In the same messaging, highlight how your library and continued to serve the community during the time the library was closed, Use positive phrases like “we are all in this together” or “AnytownUSA Strong (fill in your community name). Following the Sandy Hook tragedy, the community came together with a common cause, collaborative and cooperative outlooks.

The Connecticut State Library, Division of Library Development is there for you.

Stage 4: Full Public Service Restored. Library building completely open to the public with business as usual contingent on the Governor's directives as well as the directives of local government. Services restored include:

  • Unlimited entry to the library.
  • Social distancing restrictions are lifted.
  • Public programs restored.
  • Interns and volunteers can return to work within the building.
  • Room rentals restored.
  • Staff develops messaging and communicates full-service restoration.

Stage 4 may be 12-18 months away

**Thank you to Patience Frederiksen of the Alaska State Library and Colleen Eggett of the Utah State Library

The Connecticut State Library, Division of Library Development is there for you.


How long does it last on surfaces? How do I clean?

FAQ from the REALM Project

Reopening Considerations for Libraries, Archives and Museums, from REALM

All REALM Project results from eight separate test groups, including tests of typical library materials, storage materials, and materials found in furnishings and equipment. The page also has links to literature reviews of new research on SARS-CoV-2 published through mid-August 2020 on how the virus spreads, the lifespan of of the virus on materials, and effectiveness of various prevention and decontamination measures.

Watch the May 18, 2021, webinar recording from CLC featuring Sharon Streams, Project Director of REALM, about the project findings, recommendations for libraries, and resources for libraries to use in decision making.

Watch the April 15, 2021, webinar recording from REALM about Understanding COVID-19 Vaccines

Watch the January 29, 2021, webinar recording from REALM with a Project Update and Community Reflections.

Watch the October 16, 2020, webinar recording from REALM specifically for Connecticut libraries.

Watch the October 8, 2020, webinar recording from REALM on Collections and Facilities: Caring for Your Resources During COVID-19.

Watch the August 4, 2020, webinar recording on REALM project updates.

From a study in the Lancet: "No infectious virus could be recovered from printing and tissue papers after a 3-hour incubation, whereas no infectious virus could be detected from treated wood and cloth on day 2. By contrast, SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on smooth surfaces. No infectious virus could be detected from treated smooth surfaces on day 4 (glass and banknote) or day 7 (stainless steel and plastic)."

The New England Journal of Medicine published research on how long the Covid-19 virus lasts in the air and on different surfaces:

  • On plastic: Undetectable after 72 hours.
  • On stainless steel: Undetectable after 48 hours. 
  • On cardboard: Undetectable by 24 hours. 
  • On copper: Undetectable by 8 hours.

For more information, please refer to authoritative sources at the CDC:

** Reopening Plans **

Open this spreadsheet to see when libraries are planning to reopen and under what conditions.

Tell us your Reopening plans


Please let us know about the projected reopening date for your library as well as your plans for providing service.

You can submit new information as often as you wish -- just fill out the form again and answer the questions of your choosing. Responses are posted in an Excel spreadsheet that you can sort by library name, county, municipal/association, and principal/non-principal.


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Dawn La Valle
Connecticut State Library
231 Capitol Ave.
Hartford, CT 06106

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