On March 15th we will reach the one year anniversary of the day the Summit Library was first closed due to covid-19 concerns. The closing came suddenly on a Sunday morning with about a two-hour notice leaving our patrons and staff in a state-of-unknown. At first we thought it was going to be for a few days or a few weeks but as the days dragged by, it became clear that we would have to rethink everything we did to provide library service in our community. Within weeks our staff worked to find new ways to do just that.

During the first three months we were not allowed to work from the library building so our librarians agreed to have reference calls forwarded to their cell phones. They set up resource lists for information about coronavirus, financial assistance and even links to museums, zoos and other places to “visit” while in lockdown. Within weeks library programs were switched to virtual with lectures, story times, book discussions, and even concerts being offered on Zoom, YouTube, Facebook Live or Google Meet. We increased the budget for electronic resources and usage of e-books, e-audiobooks and movie and music streaming skyrocketed. The Youth Services Department also provided take-home crafts, book bundles and Library Loot for children and teens.

Library service was closer to normal from July through November when the Library was open its full-regular schedule with limited capacity and programming continuing virtually. We were hoping that we were inching toward full-service when our doors were closed once again on November 23rd. Since that time the staff has scaled-up curbside pickup, continued to provide reference and readers’ advisory by telephone and e-mail, continued to offer virtual programming and enhanced electronic resources. Starting in March, up to three patrons per hour will be permitted in the library by appointment to use the public PCs. We hope that this is a first step to fully restoring service.

I am very proud of all the innovation that our staff made in their efforts to continue to provide library service. When full service returns, we think that many of the modifications made during this time may remain. Virtual programming may continue as an option alongside in-person programs and curbside service may also remain as a timesaver for our patrons. We hope that the coming weeks and months will bring an end to this long difficult time and we will be able to welcome you all back soon.

Susan Permahos, Director
Summit Free Public Library

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