IRAN PUBLIC LIBRARIES SERVICES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
19 August 2021
Public Libraries in Iran have a mission to offer services and programs to improve people’s lives based on three principles of providing information, education and opportunities for recreation. They do this through a “user-orientation” approach.
Iran Public Libraries Institution serves the public with 3,557 service points and 1,466,316 square meters (Floor Space Ratio) of facilities throughout Iran as at May 2021. This was an increase from the 3,518 service points and 1,440,907 square meters (FSR) during May 2020.
In one year, 0.03 square meters per 100 people have been added to the existing service points, and the number has increased to 39 and 25,409 square meters (FSR).
Service points in Iran
|Date||Service point||Floor space ratio (FSR)||(FSR) per 100 people|
The corona virus pandemic has affected the activities of cultural institutes including libraries. Some activities have been limited and some have been stopped. So, they have to use other approaches.
Closure of libraries in “red areas” where people had been greatly affected (according to the decision of the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education), limitation of the libraries’ activity by up to 30 – 50%, separation of returned books for quarantine, separation of librarians’ workspaces, preventing clients from entering book repositories, wearing masks, and observing social distancing, and so on are the measures taken by libraries.
Equipping the libraries to prevent Covid-19 infection
The instructions and guidance to fight covid-19 were sent to the libraries. Moreover, the officials observed all the healthcare instructions such as keeping social distance, using disinfectant, warnings, and rearranging the seats in a way that distances were kept.
One of the most significant measures taken to help libraries continue their activities is the use of special equipment to disinfect information resources, educational tools and books in libraries. For this purpose, a book sterilizer was purchased for popular public libraries. This was done to reassure adult members and parents about the hygiene of the books and educational tools.
These UV devices have a volume of 500 liters (equivalent to a bookcase) and in addition to books, they can also disinfect educational tools. This device can sterilise 100 to 150 volumes of books in thirty minutes to an hour. The interior is designed in such a way that can disinfect floors, office tools etc., with up to 90% efficacy. It utilises air pressure to clean dust and other allergens. This device is made by an Iranian knowledge-enterprise.
It should be noted that the libraries’ new approaches made them social and cultural bases too, so during the pandemic they became bases for providing public services to fight the virus. For example, they allocated places in libraries for making masks and other related exercises.
Providing virtual services to audiences and members of public libraries
Due to existing restrictions, members of public libraries are not able to borrow books physically at the libraries. As such, three new services were designed:
1) Home delivery of book during lockdown
Through this method, people can select the books, papers or other cultural products they want via the site or social media related to the libraries. The librarians will pack them based on healthcare instructions and send them to the receiver’s address by using APP, motorbike or post. The elderly, housewives, teens and those who took care of a patient at home welcomed this method more than others. This service has encouraged people to read more.
2) Librarians and social media
As we know, due to the pandemic it is impossible to hold cultural events in libraries where people can physically take part (such as literary circles, telling stories, competitions etc.), but libraries provided an opportunity to keep in touch with their clients through social media and to hold several cultural events through that platform.
3) Providing access to scientific databases
With the aim of extending online services, access to electronic research and scientific resources of Public Libraries, Web-based databases were provided. In this way, members can have online access to articles and scientific researches. This method can be useful for students during lockdown.