New City Library’s Response to Covid-19

Dear New City Library Patrons,

With the recent announcement by Governor Cuomo of the Regional Guidelines for Re-Opening New York, it finally feels like we can take a deep breath, exhale, and get busy with preparations to re-open the library.  We still have challenges ahead, but I am confident that with the assistance of my capable staff, the support and cooperation of our patrons, the guidance of our trustees, and a thorough and thoughtful plan, we will succeed in making progress towards getting back to “normal.”

In retrospect, the decision to close the library and the resulting actions we had to take pale in comparison to the difficult and delicate task of re-opening.  We must proceed cautiously.  It would be imprudent to open and offer 100% of our collections, services, and space at first.  We have never had to do this before, and we want to get it right.

Before we open our doors, the staff must return and acclimate to an altered workspace that allows social distancing.  Materials that have been delivered during the closing must be sorted, processed, and added to the collection.  A new system of circulation that allows for either the quarantining or disinfection of materials must be learned.  The staff should be afforded this time before they can properly serve the public.

The next step would be getting materials into the hands of our patrons.  This may start as curbside pickup only.  The library stacks would be closed to browsing.  Holds would be placed online or by telephone, and library staff would retrieve the materials for you.  The next service to make available would be use of the public internet terminals.  This would be regulated with a reservation system, shorter time limits, and less workstations available in order to maintain proper social distancing.

Unfortunately, library programs may need to continue in the virtual world, online, for a while. Use of the meeting rooms by outside groups will be suspended.  It is not possible to maintain six feet between patrons in most of these rooms, and we may need them for storage of quarantined materials or extra, temporary office space.

In short, access to the public areas of the library will be increased incrementally as we monitor conditions, patron behavior, and orders issued by state and health authorities.

We won’t be making all of these decisions independently.  We are part of a 47-library, resource-sharing system that must coordinate the transfer of millions of books, DVDs, CDs, magazines, and more each year.  Initially, we will not be able to offer inter-library loan due to the complexity of safely transporting all of these materials among four counties.

Please know that currently there is no established timeline or order of execution for all of these preparations. We can’t set firm dates until we see how the state’s plan unfolds and the pandemic is brought under manageable control.  Options continue to be explored and decisions are still to be made.  The one thing we know with absolute certainty is that the New City Library’s staff and trustees could not be more ready to get back to work and back to fulfilling the library’s mission.

In the meantime, please continue to enjoy all the library has to offer online: downloadable and streaming books and films, research databases, and our YouTube channel that is brimming with reader’s advisory, programming for all ages, and local history content.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

5/8/2020