OPL board receives updates on services during COVID 19 closure

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) board held its regular April meeting yesterday virtually – a first for the board.

Trustees received an update on the various ways the OPL is maintaining library services to the public while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with City and Provincial measures, OPL’s 33 physical branches closed starting Monday, March 16. On the weekend preceding the closure, branches experienced an unprecedented level and volume of activity as Library customers stocked up on reading and entertainment material to help them through the pandemic shutdown.

The library continues to operate its extensive online services and resources, providing enhanced digital content, collections and programming to connect and support customers. OPL staff are also available by phone, 613-580-2940, and email, Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, except for holidays.

Virtual use of OPL has increased, notably with the Library’s new web section called Isolation Recreation that highlights resources for leisure and learning and facilitates access to extensive and valuable content for all ages, needs, and interests.

Additionally, the library has experienced increased engagement and growth on social media with hundreds of new followers connecting with OPL on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

OPL staff are looking ahead and working on plans for recovery and beyond. With the closure of OPL branches extended to June 30, 2020​, 280 part-time employees were placed on Declared Emergency Leave (DEL)​ last week. OPL staff explained that this was a very difficult decision. OPL is working with city to assess financial impact both immediate and into the future. Strategies to address budgetary pressures are being explored and considered.

The OPL informed the board that it will work supportively with the City of Ottawa, the community and local partners to meet needs and challenges such as the Spring Freshet, 3D-printing of medical mask bands, and supplying wi fi hotspots and Chromebooks to vulnerable residents and communities where possible.

In addition to the COVID-19 update, recommended revisions to the OPL’s CEO Succession Planning Policy were tabled. The proposed amendments were made to reflect organizational changes made late last year. This item is expected to be considered at the next meeting of the OPL Board, scheduled for Tuesday, May 12.

Agenda and further information are available at: https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/opl_board

A reminder that Ottawa residents can sign up for an Ottawa Public Library card online and gain access to a rich collection of eResources and fun, educational activities for kids and people of all ages. Please visit BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca.