17 April 2020
Who could have believed that our lives would change so dramatically in the five weeks since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March?
This situation would have been unimaginable at the start of the year, when our focus was on bushfires and extreme weather events. We all thought those disasters were the worst we would face. Our organisations are now having to take disaster preparedness plans to an unprecedented level and the cultural heritage sector MayDay campaign this year will take on a whole new significance.
COVID-19 has seen some ALIA Members working from home, charged with transforming our physical services to digital; others remaining in the workplace but distanced from our library users. Some of our Members have been stood down, and it is for this group that we have set up the ALIA Relief Fund.
The fund has increased over the last week to more than $12,500, thanks to the generosity of our Members. Also during this time, we have had four successful applications, one each from school and public libraries, two from university libraries. If you have been an ALIA Member for more than a year and need a helping hand, please don’t feel awkward about applying. There is a simple form to fill in and the ALIA Board is approving claims within a couple of days.
Our other focus this week has been on supporting Australian authors, who are also experiencing tough times. Their average income from writing is just $12,000 per annum, so they rely on live appearances, talks and workshops to pay the bills. We have been working closely with the Australian Society of Authors to identify individuals who have screen-ready programs to deliver through school and public library platforms. You can find a growing list of authors on the ALIA website. If you have money to spend before the end of the financial year, this is a good investment in your own community and in Australia’s creative industry.
Meanwhile, the ALIA team is continuing to add to the list of free COVID-19 resources, which includes downloadable COVID-19 graphics; multi-lingual library notices and the latest government, research and scientific information. Join us if you can for after work drinks on a Friday evening from 5pm AEST. And if you’re looking for something to do in your lunch break, try out the ALIA Library and Information Week online jigsaw puzzle.
Please stay safe and stay in touch.
Robert Knight, President, Viv Barton, Vice-President