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Librarians Are Feeling Left Out Of Idaho's Vaccine Priority Lists

Rachel Cohen/Boise State Public Radio

As New Central District Health guidelines have replaced a mask mandate with recommendation in Ada and Valley counties, librarians say their safety isn’t being prioritized.

Title 33 of Idaho Statutes includes libraries as part of the provisions for public education. But unlike teachers, librarians are currently not part of any vaccine priority group.

That wait, and the newly-relaxed mask rules are concerning for Stephanie Bailey-White,  state librarian for the Idaho Commision for Libraries.

“Not everyone's following those guidelines,” she said. “So it's definitely a challenging time for many library staff across the state.”

Most libraries in southwest Idaho are open with strict sanitation protocols. Many have pivoted their service to online check-outs, deliveries and alternative means to provide their service to the communities they serve.

They continue to be a critical resource for at-risk or underserved populations, which includes helping people make vaccine appointments online.

“They're working with people on a daily basis to get registered, helping them through that process and then trying to disinfect the computer stations after each person registers,” said Bailey-White.

Libraries in Meridian have incorporated the perspectives of their employees into the process of pivoting to safe ways of serving the public. This is something Gretchen Caserotti says has been a big part of their work to manage the pandemic in their spaces.

“When you have uncontrolled community spread, you don’t necessarily know when you’re going to get it, so we’re just going to do everything we can to make sure that it’s least likely to be transmitted at Meridian Library,” she said.

Because of their efforts, Caserotti said they’ve created a space that has made at-risk and underserved populations, like elderly people, feel safe.

Librarians were considered for the current vaccine priority group 2.1, and despite the advocacy efforts of the Idaho Library Association, that proposal was denied this week.

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