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COVID-19 Pandemic Leadership & Response

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COVID-19 Pandemic Leadership & Response

Hamilton Public Library, Ont.

Library Operations & Management | 2020

Innovation Synopsis

HPL leveraged a pre-COVID-19 pandemic plan to transform local operations and mentor the broader library community during the pandemic. With organizational resiliency and leadership HPL has increased service to the Hamilton community by transforming existing programs and resources while staff built new responsive services.


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our communities. An unprecedented public health emergency required a library-specific roadmap. Our communities needed services to address isolation and eventually return to a “new normal” in safe spaces. Key challenges faced during the crisis include:

  • Uncertainty and fear.
  • Resource constraints.
  • Restrictions on public spaces, requiring online service.
  • Services needed to rapidly evolve.

Key Elements of Innovation

  • Created an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to coordinate operations.
  • Shared “HPL’s Pandemic Plan” in webinars with libraries and museums, more than 3,000 attended.
  • Members can now connect with staff over social media, phone or email through a new customer support system.
  • Partnerships and programs evolved to reach members in their homes through phone, TV and devices.
  • Local COVID-19 resource lists on saw over 22,000 visits during lockdown.
  • Increased equity with new consistent hours for all 22 branches.

Achieved Outcomes

HPL re-imagined services and leveraged existing infrastructure to connect with the community in new ways. We’ve called over 6,500 local seniors to reduce isolation and our programs have a new audience through a consistent TV timeslot. Over 3,000 participants attended our pandemic plan and crisis communication webinars. The local resources saw more than 22,000 visits. We’re continuing to increase equity in our branches as we reopen by creating uniform hours and co-planning programming with partners.