Coronavirus Resources and Plan

Added by Amanda Augsburger (03/12/2020 - 14:46)
Last updated by Elizabeth Smith (05/27/2020 - 08:13)
Documentation Source: 


PrairieCat is here to support member libraries and will update this page with resources and information as they become available. The situation remains fluid.

PrairieCat is providing a set of processes for member libraries who need to modify services due to the 2019 novel coronavirus ("COVID-19") pandemic. PrairieCat staff are working remotely to continue supporting members. All in-person PrairieCat meetings, training, and events are cancelled or moved online. Check L2 for updates. 

PrairieCat Reopening Phases

Updated: 5/22/2020

To help member libraries resume public services when the individual library determines that they will reopen, PrairieCat is providing the following instructions. As the situation continues to develop, PrairieCat will adjust as needed. To see how other libraries are preparing phased reopening plans, see additional resources:

To reopen libraries need to submit a help desk ticket to Include the information listed here. PrairieCat will require three business days to make changes for your library and to make any system wide changes. Please review this comprehensive Reopening Guide for instructions on reopening your library. 

Reopening List of PrairieCat Libraries (5/27/2020) - Log in to access

Reminders, Due Dates, Patron Expiration Dates, Holds Pickup Dates:

  • Hold pick-up dates have been extended to June 12, 2020.
  • Due Dates: PrairieCat extended due dates for all items from March 13 to April 30 with an updated due date of June 26, 2020. This date will be adjusted if needed.
  • Patron Expiration Dates: All patron cards that would have expired during March, April, and May have been renewed to July 1, 2020. A note has been added in the patron record.
  • Notices: All paging lists, overdue, and bill notices have been turned off as of March 16, 2020 until further notice.
  • Patron Purge: This has been postponed until further notice.

Phase 1: Some Libraries Open | No Delivery (current phase)

PrairieCat will need to make special system configurations for libraries that reopen during this phase. 

  • Reopening Guide: Instructions on how to provide service during this phase. Details on circulation, holds, materials handling, fines, etc. are included in the Reopening Guide. 
  • Producing Local Holds List: Instructions on producing a local holds list while system wide paging lists are off. 
  • Holds Shelf Print Template: Information on new holds shelf print template to streamline patron notification while notices are off. 

Phase 2: Most PrairieCat Libraries Open | No RAILS Delivery

What's new?
Notices: Due to system limitations, PrairieCat is working on a solution to turn on notices for the open libraries while not negatively impacting libraries that are closed. 

Phase 3: Most PrairieCat Libraries Open | Partial RAILS Delivery

Many decisions in this phase are to be determined until the RAILS Delivery service plan is announced.

Phase 4: Most PrairieCat Libraries Open | RAILS Delivery

What we do know: The below functions are dependent upon each other so will be restored at the same time.

  • Delivery: RAILS Delivery is operational to all PrairieCat libraries and ILL can resume.
  • Paging Lists: Paging lists will be turned back on when RAILS Delivery is fully operational and ILL can safely resume. We will inform members when we know ILL can resume as usual.
  • System Wide Holds: Patrons will be able to place system wide holds in Encore. Materials may be delayed due to system disruption and delivery backlog. 

Safety and Materials Handling: PrairieCat is waiting on official guidance from the REALM Project, a new study by the IMLS (the Institute of Museum and Library Service), OCLC, and Battelle. These organizations, in partnership with library and state representatives across the country are working on questions around safe handling of materials and how delivery can safely resume. The guidelines below are based on the current information available. Visit the RAILS site for updates from the REALM Research Partnership.

Schools and Academics:

  • Standard end of year procedure, school paging lists turned off and collections made non-holdable and non-circulating.
  • All holds for school libraries and school library patrons have been cancelled. If you need a list of cancelled holds for your library, please submit a help desk ticket at
  • Reports are posted under April on the statistics page of the support site for current items checked out (log-in required):
  • If schools can message students, we would advise that they instruct them to return their library materials to their public library (if possible), if they cannot return them to the school.

Statement on System Use during Stay-at-Home Executive Order: 

Updated: 5/1/2020

Governor Pritzker has issued an Executive Order announcing a Stay-at-Home status for the entire state, which has been modified and extended to May 30, 2020. Libraries are not specifically included on the list of "essential businesses and operations," that are allowed to remain open under the Stay-at-Home Order. However, a number of Illinois libraries are considering reopening to their patrons in some format, under a provision of the Stay-at Home Order that states that; “each government body shall determine its essential governmental functions and identify employees and/or contractors necessary to the performance of those functions." When considering offering in person services to the public, libraries should discuss with their boards what library functions they deem to be essential. Libraries should consult with their local health departments, lawyers, and insurance providers to consider health and safety issues. The PrairieCat Administrative Council approved this notice on system use, read the full statement here.

Read initial guidance from RAILS' attorney on modified Stay at Home Order. This information is based on limited information that we will update once the final order is released. (4/24/20)

Read Governor Pritzker's executive orders here:

    PrairieCat Actions in Response to Closures (3/17/2020)

    Due to an attempt to balance the needs of consortium member libraries and system limitations, the following decisions have been made and are effective March 17, 2020. These are System Wide changes. 

    Circulation and Holds:

    • All library collections will be marked as non-circulating as of end of business March 17, 2020. 
    • Holds requests will be suspended from close of business March 16, 2020 until further notice. 
    • Pending holds requests made before March 17, 2020 will be addressed when services are restored.
    • Hold pick-up dates extended to June 12, 2020. 

    Due Dates: PrairieCat extended due dates for all items from March 13 to April 30 with an updated due date of June 26, 2020. This date will be adjusted if needed. 

    Patron Expiration Dates: All patron cards that would have expired during March, April, and May have been renewed to July 1, 2020. A note has been added in the patron record. 

    Notices: All paging lists, overdue, and bill notices have been turned off as of March 16, 2020 until further notice. 

    Fines: For libraries that have notified PrairieCat that they are closed to the public, fines will not accrue during the closure time. PrairieCat is working on a process for handling fines when services are restored. 

    As the situation progresses, PrairieCat will reevaluate the dates above and adjust as needed. Members will be notified of any changes. Contact PrairieCat at with any questions. 

    RAILS Information

    Visit the RAILS COVID-19 page for the latest information from RAILS. This page is updated frequently with the latest news, eresources, continuing services, and more:

    RAILS Delivery is suspended until further notice. Any questions or concerns around delivery should be directed to Send your message from the email address used for your Library Learning (L2) account, so the ticketing system will recognize your library and route your message to the correct RAILS service center.