We started out 2021 with a plan already in place, guidelines to go by, and a little experience under our belts. Last year at this time, it was business as usual, not knowing we were a couple of weeks away from a pandemic that would change everything for the Library, the country and the world.
On March 17, 2020, the Library closed for what was thought to be two weeks, but ended up being seven months. During this time, we reexamined our services to determine everything from how to quarantine returned items to creating a new way to work and keep staff safe while continuing to serve the community. We began adapting as many services as possible. Among them, we began curbside service, created a virtual library card, moved story times online, provided local resource guides online, answered questions from the community, and promoted our online content. We reached out to our patrons who we knew had no online access to assure they were aware of the services we were offering while closed.
We overcame a major challenge, by overhauling our summer reading program to follow officials’ directed health measures, offer no contact activities and an incentive program to encourage kids to read throughout the summer, all while our Library doors were closed to the public. We met the goals of our program and received positive feedback from the community. Our program offered a much needed distraction from the day-to-day doldrums many were experiencing.
Amidst the challenges of 2020, we took advantage of being closed to the public to complete some projects on our “to do” list. Overhead signage was added to direct patrons to each area of the library and shelf labels to make it easier to locate popular series or particular author’s books. A bright new rug and high top café-style table was added to the teen area and posters hung from the ceiling. A rainbow will now greet kids as they enter the children’s area and bright new decals on the walls.
Much of the time in 2020 was spent preparing for our Library’s reopening, which also meant learning as much as possible and keeping up-to-date with evolving information about COVID-19. We began stocking up on the necessary supplies of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and wipes. Plexiglass dividers were added at the checkout counter. Some furniture was removed, computers were blocked off to allow for social distancing, stuffed animals and other items were removed from the children’s area. Signs were added most everywhere in the Library instructing patrons of what to do and what not to do. The Library reopened on October 12, with modified hours and new guidelines for patrons on how to use the Library during a pandemic.
I’d like to thank everyone for their patience, flexibility, and support during this time. We know more now than we did in 2020 and I’m optimistic about our future. Please know that no matter what, your Library is here for you.