This paper explores how services gaps between public libraries, governmental authorities, and other institutions were addressed during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the labor of filling these gaps reveals the repair and maintenance work in and on the public good of the library. The site for this exploration is the project Australian Public Libraries During the COVID-19 Crisis: Implications for Future Policy and Practice, which used mixed-methods questionnaires and interviews to understand the library and information science (LIS) profession’s response to the pandemic. During the pandemic, public institutions labored to maintain services and repair any gaps arising from disrupted services. The extraordinary labor instigated by the pandemic can be used to theorize the ordinary labor of maintaining public institutions such as libraries and how notions of the public good are reaffirmed through individual and institutional acts of care. The maintenance and repair of public libraries as institutions with community service obligations reveals assumptions about essential services, which communities are disadvantaged, and the policing role of libraries. Understanding the repair role of libraries helps researchers and practitioners to theorize and conceptualize their work and service to the community in new ways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Critical Library and Information Studies
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2023


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