Our library is arranging more online programming in response to COVID-19 closures and reductions. What should we be thinking about in making these arrangements?
Can a library sponsor an online class open to the public? YES.
There are just a few details to attend to:
1. The financial details
Libraries do not charge for programming, but can pay others to offer library programming for free, so as the member says, this online program should be open “to anyone.”
The instructor can still be paid, but the payment should come from the library, while the on-line attendees tune into this library program for free.
The trick in this is to avoid “fiscal hybridization,” (with the library hosting and promoting the event, and the instructor getting some payment from some attendees).
2. The online content details
Once your library has confirmed the financial details, there should be complete understanding about the following questions:
Can the library promote the class using the instructor’s name and likeness?
Will the session be recorded?
Who owns the recording?
Will the library be able to use the recording for as long as it wants?
What platforms will the session and recording be hosted on?
Will the recording be put in the collection of the library?
What social media will the session be promoted on?
Will the session use music (that could stop it from being posted some places, like YouTube)?
That’s it, nothing fancy, just have some things to have clarity about.
3. The participant details
Once you have the details of the way the class will go “out there,” confirm:
Who is our target audience?
Do they have any particular vulnerabilities?
Do we need to consider ADA access such as captioning?
How will we collect feedback on the programs?
4. The contract details
With all that minutia settled, here is a template agreement to organize the details.
Of course, as with all template contracts, if you can, have this template customized for your library by your local lawyer or insurance carrier.
ONLINE INSTRUCTION AGREEMENT
The [LIBRARY] (“Library”)and [NAME] (“Instructor”), with an address of [ADDRESS], to provide critical health programming at a time of state-wide pandemic emergency, agree as follows:
Instructor will offer classes in ____________ (“__________ Classes”) from [PHYSICAL LOCATION] to Library’s patrons and others via:
[INSERT HOSTING METHOD AND STREAMING SITE(S)]
Classes will be live streamed at [INSERT TIMES, DATES].
The ___________ Classes will be a target audience of those who can benefit from online social gatherings to participate in ___________________.
[in case of activity involving a professional license] Instructor’s professional license was granted by [LICENSING AUTHORITY] and is current; if the license expires or is revoked during the term of this agreement, Instructor will notify Library immediately.
[in case of instruction involving physical activity] To promote safe participation, at the start and end of every class, the screen will read, or the Instructor will say:
[INSERT Instructor’s preferred safety and wellness message; here is a sample that is customized for the times:
[ACTIVITY] is intended as a gentle but serious exercise. Please consult your physician prior to any physical activity that could impact your health, and only participate within your know abilities. Please stay safe during this time of social distancing and enjoy our class.]
___________ Classes will be promoted as a free program of the library and Instructor shall not charge individual attendees for these sessions.
Library will pay Instructor _____ per session.
Instructor has agreed to provide this programming on a volunteer basis.
Instructor agrees that no music or other copyrighted work other than content owned or properly licensed to Instructor and Library shall be used during recorded or live-streamed __________ Classes.
Instructor agrees that Library may use their name, likeness, and image when promoting ____________ Classes. Library agrees that Instructor may use its name, likeness, and image when promoting _____________ Classes.
All sessions of __________ will be recorded by [INSERT] and the recording will be jointly owned by Instructor and Library. This means both parties shall have the right to make copies, distribute in any way, or otherwise use the copyrights to the recordings.
Instructor hereby agrees to hold harmless and indemnify Library for any claim, cause of action, or injury arising from the creation, promotion, and participation in ________ Classes.
Instructor is an independent contractor and no partnership, joint venture, or relationship other than what is in this Agreement is created or implied by this Agreement.
The Parties both understand that this is an agreement during a time of emergency and this contract may be terminated without notice. Any changes to this contract shall be confirmed via e-mail reflecting clear mutual agreement by the parties.
This agreement is governed by the laws of the State of New York.
Signed for Library on _________:_______________________
Signed for Instructor on _________:_______________________
5. The assessment details
As with any library program, a live-streamed event is one for the staff to watch, monitor, and assess on a continual basis. This will allow you to assess if the promotion, the session, and the recordings comply with the Agreement, and to make enhancements based on participant feedback. It is also another way to limit the risks inherent in the activity.
Just as critical, though, will be feedback that the class felt accessible, gave good instruction, and had a positive impact.
I wish you many valuable and rewarding online programs.
 I also would not have a concern with it being restricted to card-holders within a system, or card-holders registering in advance to participate for free.
 The instructor could also do this as a volunteer, but if they do good work, it is nice for them to get paid.
 If you can, this template should be reviewed by the lawyer who knows your library best. But given the current crises and the need to reach people quickly, and the strain on budgets, I appreciate that you might laugh at this footnote.