EASTHAM — The town’s library closed to the public exactly two months ago, but staff have been busy providing online options for patrons and planning for the day when the doors open again.
The first stage of a multi-part reopening will involve a “piggyback” collaboration with the Council on Aging to deliver books and DVDs along with the council’s lunches to homebound residents. That will be followed by curbside delivery outside the library of materials ordered by phone or online.
“We’re going to be in a very good position to start, when we’re allowed to start, not to reopen but to provide services,” Library Director Debra DeJonker-Berry told the board of trustees during a virtual meeting Saturday. “Staff just started to check in books that have been in quarantine.”
When curbside pickup becomes a reality, patrons will be able to order materials in the Eastham collection only, as it will take some time for the state’s inter-library loan system to begin deliveries again. The due date for books taken out before the shutdown has been extended to June 30, and donations of books are not being accepted.
“I don’t know how far we’re going to get in terms of opening services more than curbside in the short term, which could be right through the summer,” DeJonker-Berry said. “The last thing we want is for the library to be the source of the spread of infection.” Eastham’s draft reopening plan is being coordinated with those of other libraries on the Cape and will be implemented in consultation with town public health officials.
Staff members are working hard to provide a vital online experience in the meanwhile, according to DeJonker-Berry. “You can see story hours on Instagram and Facebook,” she said. And Assistant Library Director Karen MacDonald is putting together a low-tech, conference call-based book discussion on Ian Saxine’s book, The Story of the First Encounter.
Youth Services Librarian Fran McLoughlin is setting up an online summer reading program with Access & Technology Services Librarian Melanie Fernandes and Outreach Librarian Marianne Sinopoli. Technical Services Assistant Connie Wells and McLoughlin are reorganizing the children’s collection. The phones are still being answered, and Fernandes has been helping callers with technology questions.
“We’re not happy we’re in this situation, but we’re taking advantage of the opportunity,” DeJonker-Berry said.
“Right now, the Children’s Room looks like a movie set,” the director wrote in her May 9 report to the trustees. “The long-term goal is to have performers use the Turner Room as a studio with live broadcasting.” The library’s website lists upcoming performances as well as all the services that can be accessed by cardholders.
If you’ve just got to get your hands on a book, the Friends of Eastham Public Library continues to stock a cart outside the library with fiction, some nonfiction, children’s books, and large-print editions.
As for the library building itself, being closed will turn out to be an advantage in rescheduling work to track down the source of a persistent leak that has required placing buckets near bookshelves. “The people that built it are addressing it, and not charging the town,” DeJonker-Berry said. “We were really close before everything shut down.”