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SLO County librarians switching roles to help in pandemic response

County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries
Three SLO County libraries will be closing until further notice.

As SLO County COVID-19 cases rise and the demand for testing is increasing, three more county libraries are closing because librarians and other staff are answering the call to help the county in its COVID19 response.

It's part of being a county employee—in the case of an emergency or disaster, county workers can be pulled by other departments to help.

Aracelli Astorga with SLO County Public Libraries said while this hasn’t happened before the pandemic, all county employees are aware they may be needed elsewhere. 

“When you join our organization you know that in the event of an emergency you might be called up to work outside of your normal work location,” Astorga said.

Librarians and library associates throughout San Luis Obispo County are helping the county in its COVID-19 response. 

"When the library first closed in March a lot of staff got deployed to various parts of the county," Astorga said. "We had some staff help set up the alternative care site at Cal Poly; we had some staff help assist at [homeless services center 40] Prado.”

This week, more staff are being relocated to help at testing sites, vaccine clinics and working as contact tracers.

“In order to do all of this, we need manpower," Astorga said. "And unfortunately there is not enough of us to assist with vaccination efforts and keep all of our branches open.”

The Nipomo, Los Osos and Cambria libraries are now closed until further notice, but the Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, Atascadero and Morro Bay libraries remain open.

Astorga acknowledges this may be a disruption for some, but library employees know their help and knowledge is needed during this time of crisis. 

“Some people think the library is pretty boring, but every day is an adventure," Astorga said. "We are used to being able to adapt to various situations and we are responsible. So it’s an honor to be able to serve in this capacity.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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