Public libraries should close due to coronavirus despite inconvenience caused


Photo by Sophie Casey '20

The Westport Public Library decided to close its doors indefinitely on March 12 to achieve social distancing.

Amidst the chaos of the coronavirus, Westport has closed all public facilities. Beaches, parks, stores, restaurants and libraries are all among the places that have been shut down. Obviously the closure of these facilities is not convenient for anyone, but people who rely on libraries for computers and the internet are affected in an especially problematic way. 

Many people utilize libraries for internet and computer access. Although these people will be deprived of this much needed toolken in an increasingly digitized world, libraries should be closed during the COVID-19 crisis for the safety of our communities. 

According to a study done by Pew Research, 29% of library-using Americans 16 and older said they had gone to libraries to use computers, the internet or a public Wi-Fi network. Additionally, 35% of those whose annual household incomes are $30,000 or less used these resources . 

There are a substantial amount of people without easy internet or computer access, and this is even more problematic during this technology-reliant period of home quarantine. 

The sole way of communicating in this time of social distancing is via technology. Despite this necessity for technology, there is one factor that must be accounted for that overrides any other issue: the safety of our communities. 

This is an unprecedented time period. It is not convenient for anyone, but this is not about convenience. Right now, the most important thing that people have to do is protect; protect themselves, protect the people around them and protect their towns by staying inside and adjusting their lifestyles for however long this period lasts for. 

Coronavirus has seen an exponential spread, so far. According to the Washington Post, the number of cases is doubling, on average, every three days. 

Epidemiologists Jeff Martin of UC San Francisco explains his take on Coronavirus. “Social distancing is currently the most important factor we can control in the COVID-19 outbreak, and therefore critical,” Martin said. 

So far, the only effective way of prevention is social distancing, and it is essential that people do this in order to save the people in our communities who are most vulnerable. 

Libraries, among other facilities, should thus be closed despite the implications it might cause. The entire world is changing its way of life, and people have to adjust their lifestyle according to what will protect our communities most effectively.