New Jersey Library Community Forms Task Force on Post COVID-19 Alignment, Trends, and Strategies (TOPCATS)

New Jersey Library Community Forms Task Force on Post COVID-19 Alignment, Trends, and Strategies (TOPCATS)


The library community, under the umbrella of LibraryLinkNJ (LLNJ), has come together with representatives from across New Jersey to develop best practices and guidelines for libraries in New Jersey when the Governor’s executive order closing libraries is lifted.

With nearly 2,600 public, academic, school and special libraries in its membership, LLNJ is best equipped to manage this initiative. With representatives from the New Jersey State Library (NJSL), New Jersey Library Association (NJLA), New Jersey Library Trustee Association (NJLTA), and Board Members of LibraryLinkNJ on the task force, this collaboration is expected to be far-reaching.

On April 16, 2020, the LLNJ Executive Board established a new task force on COVID- 19, and charged the task force to explore issues, strategies, and solutions relative to the reopening of libraries post COVID-19. Board member, Ralph Bingham, was nominated to serve as the chair of the new LibraryLinkNJ Task Force on Post COVID-19 Alightnment, Trends, and Strategies (TOPCATS).

Areas of inquiry for TOPCATS include but is not limited to:

  1. Coordinated efforts for reopening New Jersey’s libraries
  2. Needs assessment for providing library services post COVID-19.
  3. Communication Strategies for reopening our libraries
  4. Staff training needs for working in a post COVID-19 environment
  5. Advocacy, to ensure that libraries are included in New Jersey’s safe reopening initiatives
  6. Framework for NJ libraries’ Response, Recovery & Resilience in the post COVID-19 environment, in the context of how our communities have changed and how we as libraries should respond.

This coalition includes small, medium and large public libraries, county libraries, consortia, academic and school libraries and representatives from around the state.

The Task Force realizes that not one shoe is going to fit everyone but wants to make sure that libraries have the information they need to make decisive, realistic, and systematic plans for reopening sooner than later.

The first meeting was held on Friday, April 24, under the stewardship of Chair Ralph Bingham and LibraryLinkNJ Interim Executive Director, Juliet Machie. At that meeting the large group was divided into 5 working works including:

  • Best Practices
  • Communications & Outreach
  • Futures
  • Policy & Advocacy
  • Survey

This coalition plans on sharing news and information regularly as we know that there is much “misinformation” already circulating in the library community. The goal is to provide actionable plans and tools that can be presented to Library Boards and decision makers, to preempt something being imposed upon libraries without input.

We ask that you reach out to the TOPCATS Chair, Ralph Bingham, or the LLNJ Interim Executive Director, Juliet Machie, with any areas of concern that you may have.