Unprecedented. You have probably heard that word many times in the past few weeks. You will likely hear it many more.
Unprecedented decisions, unprecedented uncertainty. But at the same time, we have witnessed unprecedented good, unprecedented acts of people and communities drawing together. That’s the part we have held on to as we at Southwest Public Libraries and individuals and communities all over have sought new ways to support and serve.
Thank you for your kindness to friends and neighbors, your concern for healthcare and essential workers, your support for SPL even while our physical buildings are closed.
Our commitment to the community remains steadfast. We are anxious to reopen and serve patrons in person again and are preparing to do so as soon as is safely possible. We know it is not the same, but we hope you have been enjoying our digital library available at swpl.org.
We have not been idle. In the past month and half, we have worked to expand our digital services, including channeling more of our materials budget toward digital resources, expanding digital checkout limits, adding new databases and introducing digital programming.
We recently launched online storytimes for families to enjoy with their favorite youth services staff and are working on additional programming for both youth and adults. New online storytimes are posted weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays via Facebook and YouTube.
We encourage patrons looking for further engaging resources to follow us on Facebook and Instagram which are updated frequently.
On the non-digital side, essential staff have been handling duties behind the scenes to keep the buildings safe and operational. Staff who can work from home are doing so while those who cannot are making sure to follow social distancing guidelines.
The business office continues to process financials. Our IT has been working to make sure all technology is up-to-date, and the facilities maintenance staff has been maintaining library grounds and servicing equipment.
Librarians have been busy planning future programming, and the administrative staff has been closely monitoring, researching and implementing official guidelines for safely reopening. The safety of our patrons and staff remains of utmost priority.
Both locations of SPL are closed through at least May 4 in continued efforts to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Book drops are closed and locked during this period. Patrons should hold on to library materials and not return any materials at this time. Due dates and hold dates have been adjusted. Nothing is due during this time, and no fines will be charged.
Thank you all for your support as we continue to work through this challenging time together. We cannot wait to welcome you through our doors again as soon as it is safe to do so. Do not hesitate to contact us via the website or social media. Stay well.
Mark Shaw is the director of Southwest Public Libraries.