A letter sent to Governor Phil Scott from the VLA Executive Board.
To the Honorable Phil Scott, Governor of Vermont:
Secretary Smith indicated at the press conference on February 2nd that Vermont is “open to discussions about what comes next” with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. In this spirit, the Executive Committee of the Vermont Library Association asks the State of Vermont to prioritize library workers alongside other front-line workers.
Library workers continue to be grateful for the support and patience of our respective communities as we all cope with the COVID-19 crisis. We have also become even more aware of the value that our communities place on library services and how essential library resources continue to be for people of all ages in our towns and villages. As a group, library workers have made determined efforts to build and enhance library offerings.
- Updating and adding to educational materials for in-school and homeschool learners and their families, from preschool through post-secondary education
- Increasing access to technology resources, from laptops loans to expanded wi-fi service
- Providing and maintaining accurate and up-to-date information about the COVID situation, including economic, health and educational details
- Offering a reliable source for engaging and meaningful education and entertainment
- Reaching out to community members who may have less frequent social contact during the State of Emergency
To sustain this level of service and to prepare for upcoming demands on library services, such as reopening our spaces for public use, librarians and library staff in public, school, academic and special libraries need protection from exposure to Covid-19. Therefore, we ask that library staff be place in the same group as other front-line workers in the proposed schedule for administration of the COVID vaccine.
As State Health Commissioner, Mark Levine, M.D., stated, ““Having a safe and effective vaccine is an essential tool to stop the virus from spreading. We see every day what it means to have a highly infectious disease spread without a vaccine available to keep it in check.” Making sure library staff are among those protected will mean that libraries can offer their critical services to those in need.
We support recent statements by the Vermont School Library Association, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, and other professional organizations who have made similar requests, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further.
Vermont Library Association Executive Committee
Kevin Unrath, President (Library Director Shelburne)
Amy Olsen, Past President (Library Director Hyde Park)
Mike Roy, Vice President (Dean of Library Services, Middlebury)
Marie Schmukal, Secretary (Library Director, Warren)
Deputy Commissioner Tracy Dolan, Department of Health
Vermont State Librarian Jason Broughton