Libraries Respond to COVID-19: Keeping Your Hours Current in Online Searches

Bruce Washburn, Principal Engineer, OCLC Research /

Image courtesy Google search

To help curtail the further spread of COVID-19 in their communities, many libraries have canceled programs and other events, or have closed entirely for a period. The recent—and in many cases abrupt—changes to programs and hours may not be immediately detected and reflected in search engines. This gap in information could lead to confusion and inconvenience for patrons who are searching online for your library.  

One way to ensure that information about the library is kept up to date in search engine results and other widely used websites is to claim the library as a “business” in those systems.

For example, library staff can play a direct role in communicating information to Google by claiming their library in Google My Business and following these steps to adjust information on current hours, contact information, and more. It may take some time for changes to be reviewed and reflected in Google results, and this information can also come from other sources, so you’ll want to make sure that these details are also updated on your library’s own website.

A similar approach can be taken to claim the library on Yelp and other widely used websites where you expect your patrons to be searching for information about your library’s open hours and services.

As events unfold, library schedule changes can also be submitted to a Google sheet project, Public Libraries closed for COVID-10, started by Michael Sauers, Director of Technology at, and Julie Erickson, with support from Heather Braum.  

A note on COVID-19 from WebJunction:

The COVID-19 outbreak is having a global impact and affecting local communities. Staff in libraries of all types, geographic locations, and sizes are learning the facts about this public health crisis and helping to inform their patrons. WebJunction has compiled additional resources for libraries in response to this outbreak at