My immediate thought is that libraries and librarians are vital in the aftermath of a catastrophe. We’ll be where people go to get their unemployment applications in or apply to new jobs or work on new resumes, we’ll be outlets for official municipal information (ideally, because it seems some libraries are being forbidden to talk about corona right now, but I can’t imagine that continuing with post-isolation recovery efforts), people will use the space for organizing or socializing, we’ll see an increase in materials circulation because of information needs (and probably also new hobbies having been developed in quarantine), and people will desperately want someone to talk to. We can’t do any of that if we’re all sick ourselves, or shuttered by our local governments…or frankly, made mad enough to leave our jobs. I always say that when the social safety net fails, we’re the tarp underneath that catches everything that falls through, and our social safety nets, what are left of them, are strained and full to bursting right now.
It might be persuasive to cite local and national statistics on how libraries create on average x dollar amount value for every y dollars invested in them, and note that we’re one of the few public institutions left to hold high levels of user trust. I suspect people are also gaining more awareness of privacy issues brought on by the pandemic because of the topics being covered in the news, so arguing that libraries do and always have stringently guarded patron privacy might be an argument to consider as having more value to the general audience now.
I also think librarians of all stripes should be keeping an eye on the discourse going on right now around keeping the USPS from being privatized: what people are saying for and against, what arguments seem to work and what don’t, how Congress reacts to the discourse. I feel like the move to privatize the post office, if successful, could end up being the trial run for tactics to do the same to libraries.