Libraries Connected is calling on the government to close libraries in wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
It said in a statement, "in light of the recent escalation of the Covid-19 crisis and the latest government advice, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that library buildings should close to protect communities and staff from infection. We are calling on government to make a clear decision about closing libraries, along with other public buildings."
While it has been working on ways to improve remote library services, including to help older people who are self-isolating and parents of young children, it highlighted "it is equally important that library staff are safeguarded during this period".
Some libraries have already closed owing to the latest government advice and Libraries Connected has said it expects more to follow. However lack of clarity from the government means, as Public Libraries News editor Ian Anstice pointed out in his latest newsletter, that "up and down the country, senior library managers are having to make decisions for their service because the government has avoided doing so. They should all be supported as it is the most difficult time in their careers, as well as ours."
Mark Freeman, president of Libraries Connected, said: "At Libraries Connected and indeed across all our library services, our primary concern is to keep library staff, users and volunteers safe through this unprecedented crisis. Regretfully, it now appears that closing library buildings during this time may be the most effective means to achieve this."
Carol Stump, president elect for Libraries Connected, added: "A library service is far more than the building. Our work to tackle isolation and loneliness will be absolutely vital over the next few weeks and months and we are all committed to providing online and remote services to our communities for as long as this crisis continues."