Panel Discussion on COVID-19 and Libraries

I was happy to join fellow Libraries Unlimited authors Kristin Grabarek, Noah Lenstra, and Sara K. Zettervall in a virtual panel discussion of how public libraries are adapting their services and programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Libraries in Unprecedented Times: Before, During, and After the Pandemic  was sponsored by School Library Connection / ABC-CLIO, and can be viewed below. A list of resources is available here.

 

Using Idle Library Tech to Fight COVID-19

Closings and service reductions have left some libraries with an array of technology that currently sits idle. Rather than let this equipment gather dust, why not add it to the fight against the Coronavirus? Below are two ways your library may be able to help.

Add Your Computers’ Processing Power to the Search for Treatments

folding@home simulation being run on a computer

Your typical library contains a sizable network of staff and patron computers. At present, many of these computers and laptops sit unused. That said, there is a great need for their processing power! Folding@Home is a volunteer project that utilizes tens of thousands of computers to help run digital simulations of COVID-19. In short, the processing power of all these disparate laptops/PCs operate as a sort of supercomputer, piecing out complex data as small packages to many devices. The project ultimately aims to understand COVID-19’s biochemistry and reveal potential weaknesses that can be exploited. Consider installing this software on library computers not in use.

3D Print Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

picture of 3d printed face shield
A face shield 3D-printed at the J. Willard Marriott Library of the University of Utah

Hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities have been reporting shortages of PPE. With this in mind, your idle 3D printer can be used to produce much-needed equipment. In Suffolk County, New York, libraries have gathered more than sixty 3D printers at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System to form one massive 3D printer farm. This farm is currently churning out face masks for front-line health care workers. Production is expected to hit more than 200 masks daily!

an image of suffolk county's 3d print farm
Above: The Suffolk Cooperative Library System’s print farm.

Looking to join the fight? David Ecker, the Director of Stony Brook University’s iCREATE Lab has provided files and detailed instructions on assembling these face masks!

In Conclusion

COVID-19 has created massive service disruptions. What is worse, is the sense of helplessness it can engender. With a little ingenuity, you can reconfigure some of your library’s equipment to contribute to the fight against the coronavirus, creating a sense of purpose and making a real difference in your community and beyond.