COVID-19 for Public Libraries

COVID-19 is the name for a strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.  This is a contagious disease that causes respiratory illness in people.  It has since appeared in other countries outside of China, including the United States, and is now considered to be a pandemic.  Visit this page for updates about community response to COVID-19 at the Local Level, plus a helpful Guide to COVID-19 for Public Libraries.

At the Local Level (newest to oldest)

ADDED 3/26/20: On Tuesday, March 24th, Wenham announced its first known case of COVID-19.  We wish this person a swift and full recovery.

At the library level, staff continue to work remotely from outside the library.  Reference staff is creating a forthcoming page of COVID Freebies.  Many online learning outlets are offering products and services at no charge in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or have made special modifications or add-ons to Electronic Resources to which we already subscribe.  Rather than make you wait, some examples include Scholastic’s Learn From Home, which we mentioned earlier, and Ancestry‘s agreement to make our Ancestry Library Edition subscription accessible from home during the shutdown period (Hamilton-Wenham card number and PIN/password required for login.)  Since our subscription is normally only available for use within the library, this will expand your genealogical research options from home.

In a similar vein, visit Ways to Play & Learn at Home Together!, a blog post by our very own Children’s Librarian Lorraine Der listing online enrichment venues for remote play and learning.

ADDED 3/23/20: As of Tuesday, March 24th, library staff at Hamilton-Wenham and other public libraries will work remotely, per the recent emergency order from Governor Baker. We cannot presently take any phone calls, but you can still reach us by email at  The library web site will also be maintained remotely, with the addition of updates, links to more eResources, and other content.  Stay well and stay tuned!

ADDED 3/17/20: Yesterday (Monday March 16th) marked the start of our library’s closure to the public, but staff remain in the building working on projects, both new and longstanding.  We are here and available to take your calls and emails, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  If this changes we will let you know.

Of course, our Electronic Resources are available 24/7.  If you have any questions about those or anything else that we could help you with (Reference, Research, the 2020 Census, additional offsite resources for downloadable books and audio online), drop us a line!

News of interest to parents, children and teachers: Scholastic has created a free 20-day online learning resource called Learn at Home.  Go check it out!  This resource employs two other Scholastic products called Book Flix and Watch & Learn Library.  If you are prompted to log into either of these, just enter the following:

username: Learning20 | password: Clifford

ADDED 3/14/20: Per our latest announcement:

“In the interest of public health and in consultation with town officials and the Library Board of Trustees, the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library will be closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16. The tentative date we will re-open is Monday, March 30.

Due dates for all materials have been extended to Friday, April 3. All holds currently at the Library have extended pickup dates of April 3. All Library cards that were set to expire have been renewed for 60 days.

All Library programs, events, and meetings have been cancelled through Saturday, April 4.

Our online resources are always available from your home computer, tablet, or phone. Overdrive eBooks and eAudios are available in the Libby app. Freegal music can be streamed through the Freegal app. Hoopla movies and TV shows can be streamed through the Hoopla app.

Library staff will be available to answer the phones and reply to email questions Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Please check the Library website, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram accounts for future updates regarding open and closed hours.”

ADDED 3/12/20: In consultation with town officials, the Library has decided to cancel and or postpone all programs, meetings and events through April 3. We will evaluate the possibility of resuming programming by the end of March. This decision will be based upon the recommendations of the Board of Health, the Library Board of Trustees and town and government officials. At this time, the Library will remain open to the public. We will continue to employ the precautions recommended by the Board of Health, Mass. Dept of Health, and the CDC.

ADDED 3/11/20: Governor Baker has declared a State of Emergency to support the Commonwealth’s response to Coronavirus.  Here at Hamilton-Wenham, Director Kim Butler posted the following to our library’s Facebook account:

“Out of an abundance of caution we, in consultation with town officials, have decided to cancel the March Friends of the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library book sale that was scheduled to start this Friday, March 13. It is unfortunate that we have had to make this decision but feel that it is the responsible thing to do for the safety of our staff, volunteers, and patrons. If you would like to support the Friends please consider becoming a member, renewing your membership, or making a donation at their web site.  Currently, there are no other changes to our programming schedule. Please continue to check our social media pages and our web site for updates as decisions are made.”

ADDED 3/9/20: Please see this joint statement from the towns of Hamilton and Wenham and from their respective Boards of Health.

COVID-19 for Public Libraries

Because this is a rapidly developing news situation and an object of public concern, we want to share a resource that we are using ourselves at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library:

A Guide to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) for Public Libraries

This guide was put together by National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) and is a .gov web page.  It includes links to reputable, vetted sources such as Medline, NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)  The CDC in particular offers practical information about how COVID-19 spreads, its symptoms, and best practices for prevention.  “News Resources” includes links to breaking information from the New York Times, BBC and other outlets, while “Maps and Visualizations” provides helpful tools for understanding the movement of COVID-19 around the world and within our borders.

We hope, in the midst of changing and often competing information about Coronavirus, that this straightforward guide will be of use.