The last few weeks have been unprecedented to say the least. In my wildest imagination, I would never have been able to predict the current state of things. Typically, during this time of year, people would be gearing up for summer fun. This year, we are all reconsidering our priorities and options based on what is possible.
On May 11, we reopened the book returns. On May 18, we started curbside service for the first time in our history. Along with curbside, we also restarted our Library-By-Mail program. These steps were important in allowing people to regain access to the Library’s physical collection. In truth, I have been thinking about curbside service for a couple of years, and this situation gave us the opportunity to establish the service. So far, it’s been very well received!
I know that many people enjoy physically browsing the shelves. It will be a while before we can open the stacks back up for browsing. Many people understand that browsing our collection online and placing a hold is a lot like online shopping. Based on what has happened to Amazon’s stock since March, I think we can say that many people are very comfortable with this process! If you’re one of these folks, be sure to visit our catalog and request something.
However, if you are a shelf browser, I’d like to challenge you to challenge our staff! We spend a lot of time training on readers’ advisory, and our staff are very good at recommending titles based on what you like. Just tell them, “I liked Gone Girl,” or “I need 10 picture books on trucks for my little one,” or “I like to read about WWII,” and they will find good things for you! Challenge them, and tell them how they did (what you liked and what you didn’t). If you’re not comfortable talking to our staff about this, we even have a few online resources that you can use to do the same thing. Ask us for something to read. We are up to the challenge!
Another important thing that happens every year at this time is the start of the Summer Library Program. Many of you know that MCPL has studied the positive effects of summer reading. We’ve proven that children who read in the summer avoid the “summer slide.” With so many children away from traditional school since March, participation in the Summer Library Program may be more important this year than any previous summer. We have been working to retool the Summer Library Program in our time of “social distancing.” Please encourage all the young ones in your life to participate in the Summer Library Program.
For several weeks, we have been sending surveys to customers asking how we are doing during the pandemic. Generally, we are getting pretty good marks. We know we need to keep working, and we will bring services back when it is safe to do so and with advice from the local health departments, the CDC, and the IMLS. We will keep working hard, and I want you to keep working with us as we add services back in. Thank you for your patience, and we can’t wait to see you at the Library!
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director & CEO