[Library Letter] Lebanon County Libraries’ long and winding road to being open

3 min read649 views and 149 shares Posted July 21, 2020

In partnership with the Lebanon County Library Association, LebTown is proud to introduce “Library Letters,” a series of columns about the programming, people, and possibilities offered by libraries around the county.

Today’s letter is from Dee Neef, director of the Annville Free Library.

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Can you remember a time when COVID-19 wasn’t in the news? In Library Land, Lebanon County, it feels like an eternity since we’ve had patrons walk through our doors. In fact, it was March 16 when libraries closed countywide and stayed closed until June 8 when we began curbside delivery.

Libraries are typically busy places with people constantly coming and going, programs happening, classes being taught, kids playing and people on the computers. It was strange to experience a space so lively reduced to twelve weeks of unending quiet. (If you think that is a strange statement regarding libraries believe us when we tell you that we are not your grandmothers’ libraries anymore.) We received many calls asking when we were going to open and telling us that reading books was an activity that was sorely missed.

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There was much excitement on June 8th when we began to offer curbside service. One patron said, “Thank you so much for doing curbside pickup! Our family is really enjoying reading new books. We heard “Can we go to the library?” more than any other question during the quarantine.”

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Curbside only service lasted just four weeks and was a time of renewing connections with our patrons. In fact, 16,358 people checked out at one of our libraries during this time. These are people who were waiting for us to reopen and are glad that we exist.

The next step was to plan how to actually open our doors to the public. All six county libraries worked together to make sure we were following guidelines to safeguard staff and patrons alike. We were determined to create as consistent a reopening plan as possible so patrons across the county would find the same requirements and no surprises no matter which library they visited. The week before opening was spent gathering masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting supplies. Chairs, sofas, and children’s toys were moved away to discourage lingering. Sneeze guards were built and put in place and signs were made to inform patrons of our new rules for being in our buildings.

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Monday, July 13 was the day all county libraries opened their doors to the public. None of us knew what to expect but we are happy to report that the day came and went without a hitch and ended with a lot of happy people (including the person who did a victory dance around a circulation desk repeating how happy she was to be back and to see staff.)

So please know that all Lebanon County Libraries: Annville, Lebanon, Matthews, Myerstown, Palmyra, and Richland are open for business. Please check each libraries hours as they have changed due to the virus. If you visit, here are the basics you will be asked to follow:

  • Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Practice social distancing
  • Limit your time in the building to 30 minutes

Some libraries may have slight variations so you might want to check with them. By the way, all libraries are still providing curbside delivery for those who do not wish to enter a public building for whatever reason.

We would like to thank all who have been very patient during this time and we are eagerly looking forward to a future when we can resume in-person programs, story times, and classes. Truth be told, even though our doors are open, it’s still a little too quiet in Lebanon County’s libraries these days.

Read Previous Library Letters

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