On Tuesday, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft attended a videoconference with more than 100 public library leaders across the state. Hosted by the Missouri State Library, a division of Ashcroft’s office, the open forum provided an opportunity for library directors and key staff to discuss creative ways they continue to offer services after facilities closed due to public health concerns related to COVID-19.

 Though the doors to public libraries are locked, library leaders have implemented adjusted services, providing curbside pickup, extending Wi-Fi services into their parking lots, hosting virtual story times on social media, and expanding access to Tumblebooks and other online services. Ashcroft encouraged Missourians to check with their local library to discover which services are being provided at this time.

 Ashcroft offered his support to libraries in the following statement:

 “In so many communities, public libraries have become gathering places. Unfortunately, in response to COVID-19, most libraries in Missouri have temporarily shut their doors to patrons. I know from my discussions with library leaders that this decision was not made lightly. Library boards and staff know how hard this is for their patrons but, at this time, it is prudent to protect the community and slow the spread of the virus. We will get through this. At some point in the near future, Missouri’s public libraries will begin to reopen, and as it happens community-by-community, it will be a cause for celebration – a sign that the community is once again open for business and ready to thrive.”

 Most libraries in Missouri provide electronic access to books and other materials that are accessible 24 hours a day. If you need help finding your local library, please search the State Library’s online directory or contact the State Library directly at (573) 522-4036.