Local libraries begin new chapter during pandemic

WWNY Local libraries begin new chapter during pandemic

CARTHAGE, N.Y. (WWNY) - Libraries have always been a place for the imagination to soar and now it’s the workers who are getting creative.

When COVID-19 hit, libraries found themselves in a bind. Many got creative quickly, like the Carthage Free Library.

“We have started our book club back up, we have people calling into Zoom and our book club meeting has been on Zoom,” said Christina Bamberg, Carthage Free Library interim director.

And summer reading programs had to think outside the shelf. Activities for kids are now being sent home. “For the older kids, we’re doing little felt mice to go along with The Tale of Despereaux,” said Elizabeth Mallette, summer reading program aide.

And most libraries are offering curbside pickup.

"Patrons can call the library, tell the librarian what they'd like, they can ask for a specific book or we can pull a collection for them, so if you like mysteries, we can pull a collection of mysteries," said Susan Mitchell, North Country Library System director.

As for sanitizing the books, the CDC has found it's more effective to quarantine them, rather than using harsh chemicals.

"We are letting books sit for 72 hours when they come back, then they are safe to recirculate," said Mitchell.

But some librarians add a quick wipe-down for good measure.

So why can't libraries reopen like other attractions and businesses?

"Most of our libraries are one- or two-people operations, so it would be really difficult for them at this point to follow all the mandating cleaning procedures and have to buy all the supplies. Some of our libraries, their budgets are very small, so having to buy an extra $1,000, $2,000 in additional cleaning supplies could be really onerous to the libraries and the communities that support them," said Mitchell.

“I’m hoping maybe August or, like, when schools reopen,” said Bamberg.

So for now, the doors stay shut. But a good book is waiting to be opened.

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