This last week has been very stressful for our community as organizations and businesses grapple with how to cope with the threat of Coronavirus. It’s no different for Putney Library. Just a few days ago, I was debating whether to cancel future library programs, and today I’m writing with the news, that the board of directors and I have decided to close the library to the public for an indefinite amount of time.
I’m taking this action to limit exposure of our library patrons and staff to the virus, and data that I’ve read indicates that preemptive closure of gathering places can be effective in reducing or slowing the spread of this virus. This past Saturday, I watched as people of all ages and from all over our community gathered in the library to use computers, select books, read the newspaper, and catch up with their neighbors. Usually, the library’s position at the center of our community fills me with happiness-—it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. But the library’s greatest strength has become a liability in the effort to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
While we’ve been doing everything we can to increase our disinfection of surfaces at the library, I can’t guarantee that the virus will not spread through exposure at the library. Because the library attracts school-age children, visitors to the community, the aging populace in our town, and everyone in between, I’m concerned that we are a likely place for the virus to spread from one group of people to another, especially as schools in our area close. My worst fear is that our building becomes the source of the virus in our community. As the Peacham library director told me, “We can always reverse our decision if we find we are overly cautious. We can’t reverse the decision if we stay open and find that we helped spread the disease.”
What will this closure look like? I’ve been brainstorming the ways we can continue to provide library services and even programs while we are closed. Getting lost in a book or a movie with your family is a great idea right now and we fully intend on providing you with whatever you’d like from the library’s collection and the bigger Catamount Library Network through curbside pickup or home delivery. Please see our many options below:
*Online resources:* If you already have an account with Listen Up Vermont! or RBDigital, now is a great time to download some audiobooks or ebooks. If you don’t already have an account, take a look here: http://putneylibrary.org/borrow-and-download/audiobooks-ebooks/
You can request your library card number (needed to log on) from Emily by emailing her: email@example.com or 387-4407. Please be patient, she may be getting more requests than usual! You can also get ebooks free at https://www.gutenberg.org/.
*Curbside pick up/home delivery* We are offering curbside pickup of books, audiobooks, and
movies and home deliveries to all patrons.
Please log in to your library account to place holds on items at https://putney.bywatersolutions.com/ If you don’t know your library log in, or would prefer to call/email with your requests, please contact Emily: firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-4407
We will develop regular pick up and delivery times soon. Please contact us to arrange a
pick up time.
*Free lending library* We will be setting up a free lending library of paperback items under the outdoor overhang of the library’s front entrance (when the weather allows) for people to select books from without checking them out. Feel free to pick one up and return it when you’re done!
*Due Dates and Fines* The Putney Library doesn’t charge fines! While you may still receive automatic emails about your items, please know that due dates are flexible while we’re closed. Please feel free to renew online, by email/phone or return in the book drop if you are healthy and able to do so. You may also swap materials you are done with if you are doing a curbside pickup or we are visiting you for home delivery. Please check that all DVDs/CDs are present and have items in a bag and ready to hand over.
*Book returns:* We encourage people to return books through the book return in front of the library if you are healthy and able. We are sanitizing all books that are returned before
circulating. Please don’t worry if you are unable to get to the library.
*Wifi* Wifi will stay on and patrons can it from outside the building. Many people use it from parked cars or the benches and tables around the library.
*Programs* While all in-person programs are cancelled until further notice, we’re working with some of our upcoming presenters to offer online program attendance (a new frontier for us). Please watch for information about online programs!
*Online Resources* Don’t forget our many online resources, including Mango Language Learning Software (great for kids home from school too!), Consumer Reports Online, Learning Express and Universal Class. All of these can be found under the Search and Learn option at putneylibrary.org.
*Communication* The library will maintain communication through our newsletter, website, iPutney, our facebook page, and postings at the library. We will update our phone message with vital information.
Please know that we are not taking this action lightly, and we are constantly monitoring recommendations and news. Librarians across the state are discussing best practices and exchanging ideas on how to meet the needs of our communities in this rapidly developing situation. I hope that before long we will look back on this time and wonder if we overreacted, but I desperately do not want to look back on this time and regret having underreacted.