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Librarians Recruited as COVID-19 Hunters

American Libraries – Library workers say contact tracing is a good fit for their skills: “Gathering information, educating patrons, hunting down hard-to-find items—it’s all part of the everyday work of librarians. That’s why some cities are turning to them to serve on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic as so-called contact tracers. The work entails searching for individuals believed to have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, warning them that they might have contracted the virus, and encouraging them to self-quarantine. As city employees are often unable to report to work because of building closures and furloughs, librarians are being reassigned not only to work as contact tracers but also making masks and organizing at food banks. “I think it’s a great fit,” says Lisa Fagundes, adult services librarian at San Francisco Public Library’s (SFPL) Main Library, who first discovered the contact tracer program through a local news story. About 40 to 50 librarians from SFPL are now working as contact tracers, she says. Their skill set dovetails with the work because librarians are already trained on the ethics of maintaining patron privacy, and they also make a practice of asking open-ended questions to help identify patrons’ needs, Fagundes says. “That’s useful for contact tracing,” she says…”

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