Morocco is among the many countries closing libraries to help contain the Coronavirus threat, and as elsewhere, it is turning to digital to ensure services are not halted.
The National Library of Morocco in Rabat (BNRM) is among numerous Moroccan public institutions shifting to a work-from-home policy and a commitment to providing digital content in lieu of physical products.
Morocco’s schools closed a week ago, in stark contrast to the UK, which only closed schools this weekend, and the USA, where the government continues to send out mixed messages, leaving governors and mayors to take the lead and protect lives.
But like many countries across the Middle East and North Africa, the belated realisation of the value of digital means the transition from physical, in-class education and social support to online is a slow and cumbersome process.
Morocco World News reports that the BNRM says it will,
offer online administrative services to its subscribers, and access to electronic documents including legal deposits, manuscripts, magazines, books, and more.
The library will adopt a work system that doesn’t require its employees’ physical presence, opting instead for video chats to carry out administrative meetings.
Remote educational activities will replace lessons and classes, allowing students to stay at home and continue studies.
The move by the national library came almost a week before the Moroccan government declared a state of emergency (March 20) and put the country under total lockdown.
Details of how Moroccan public libraries, booksellers and publishers are faring remain sketchy at this point, but the total lockdown will accelerate further Morocco’s engagement with digital across all sectors.
As and when the pandemic crisis finally subsides, Morocco, like most other countries, will be a more digitally-aware society and the publishing industry will have to adjust to a new reality where digital is in the ascendancy.