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Coronavirus & Public Libraries Resources: Communications Guide

This guide contains resources which may be helpful to library staff related to the coronavirus. Information includes guidance specifically related to public libraries, and cleaning and disinfecting areas of the library.

Internal Communications

  • Consistency and Coordination - If you don’t already a staff member whose job responsibility is PR/Marketing and Communications, be sure there is someone on staff to handle coordinating the library’s messages for what your current situation is and how you plan to reopen. You will want your message to be consistent among your library branches.
  • Host weekly online meetings in teams or for the whole staff. Try to limit to one hour or less. Online meetings lasting more than one hour can be too overwhelming for many people.
  • Provide regular email updates to all staff focusing on successes and challenges.

External Communications

  • PR “Rule of Three” – remember to share your library’s message at least three times so that you can cover your bases. This could be in three different social media posts, or three different email marketing pieces, or even three different pages on your library’s website. Whatever you decide to post, just remember it may take your patrons a while to see it.
  • Consistency and Coordination – Your library’s PR/Marketing and Communications Coordinator will be coordinating the library’s messages for how you currently are providing services and how you plan to reopen. The message needs to be uniform among your library branches. Remember to consistently use your library’s logo so that you are branding your services and reopening messages and the public will become accustomed to seeing them.
  • Key messages and taglines to consider using:
    • Libraries serve the needs of communities in good times and in bad
    • Online library resources are available 24-7
    • Your Library Anytime
    • Here For You Online
    • We’re Still Open Online
    • We’re reopening but with some changes
  • Crisis Communications Tips:
    • Be proactive, compassionate, and honest.
    • Remember we represent our public, stakeholders, and coworkers, and they have placed their trust in us.
    • Keep in mind that it is more difficult for people to parse a message when they are stressed; misunderstanding is common (and everyone comes with pre-set judgments and fears).
    • Emotions are involved.
    • You may have to repeat the message in different ways – we all process more slowly because of the “noise.”
    • Be understanding and compassionate as a sender and receiver of messages.
    • Communicate frequently and in different ways.
  • Targeted Media Messages – Try to submit weekly feel-good stories about how your library is assisting in economic recovery (e.g., workforce development training, etc.) and community resurgence. Contact local news media with stories about how you have been providing online assistance and how you plan to continue offering certain services.

Social Media Communications

  • undefinedUse easy to read images with simple language such as
    • Reopening June 15
    • Curbside pickup available starting June 15
  • Remember to include your library’s logo for consistent branding.
  • Use your library’s website address to direct people to more information.
  • Update the main website page as necessary.
  • Update the most visited web pages within your library’s website with messages consistent with what is posted on your main website page.
  • Update Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a daily or regular basis highlighting available online services.
  • If you don’t have access to a graphic designer or graphic design software, use to create images or get in touch with Dana Carlsten, Graphic Designer at the SC State Library.

Communicating a Phased Approach for Reopening

Make sure to be consistent in your press releases and information posts if your library is going to take a phased approach to reopening.

  1. Remember to highlight your library’s current situation with date(s).
  2. Explain the time frame for your library’s next phase(s) of services and/or reopening schedule and what is included in that phase.
  3. Explain safety measures your library is implementing.
  4. Mention any staffing issues your library is facing and explain how that may impact certain services.
  5. Explain how you plan to continue providing a high level of customer service.
  6. Discuss how you are tracking and measuring successes and obstacles.
  7. Mention how your library is continuing community partnerships.
  8. All public organizations are being asked about accountability. Think about what you want to say about your library’s response and how you can demonstrate what you have done. Also, be prepared to show why some operations were not possible.

Press Releases

  • Always be sure to include your library’s Communications/PR/Director’s contact information.
  • Be direct and do not use complicated language.
  • Highlight all online services and how to access them. Repeat this message on a regular basis.
  • For press release, email marketing, or related information, please contact Ellen Dunn, Communications Director at the SC State Library.

Reopening Guide for Public Libraries

Sample Flyers & Signs

Signage & Advertising

  • Click here for downloadable signs you can use in your public library.
  • Hand washing signage should be placed in library restrooms prior to reopening.
  • Social distancing and other signs should be placed on library entrances along with reminders about any new operating procedures.
  • Remove any old signage that may distract from the message you’re trying to convey, this may be a great opportunity to tidy up doors and bulletin boards. Carefully look at items that are posted on bulletin boards and remove all old flyers.
  • Make sure your library’s entrance signage can be seen from the street or parking lot. This means using a very large font size. Test to see if you can see library reopening signs from far distances.
  • Library hours of operation signage should also have a large font and be easily read from the street or parking lot. Since many libraries will be opening with limited hours, be sure appropriate signage is created and posted consistently.
  • If you have street-level/portable outdoor signs, make sure to move them close to the street as is allowable and make your messages brief.
  • Consider using billboards (print and digital), radio, newspaper, and other forms of paid advertising to focus on online/available services and reopening information. When communicating with advertisers, ask for non-profit/government rates.

For questions about library signage or working with paid advertisers, please contact Ellen Dunn, Communications Director at the SC State Library.



This online communications guide is provided as a resource only. A library may opt to use or adapt any elements of these suggestions.

SC State Library Information


Many South Carolina State Library programs, resources and services are supported in whole or in part by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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