Stories from the Front Desk
Since June 15, Arlington Public Library cardholders have returned 36,000 books, placed 21,000 new holds, and checked out 3,000 items. Proving, yet again, how much Arlingtonians love to read.
But what does this look like behind the scenes?
We admit it, June 15 was a hard reset.
Two weeks into providing a new holds pick-up service, many of our library staffers have shifted from telework to on-site work. In the previous month, they worked hard to prepare Central Library to receive holds from all eight library locations and to create a safe way for patrons to pick up those holds. Long before that, however, staff took up the challenge of learning and implementing a new operating system - a system that had to be replaced before our contract ran out in July, in a process that had started 18 months earlier when a pandemic was a story in the Fiction section or a lesson in the Nonfiction section...
Safety is part of our daily routine: Pre and post-COVID-19.
The safety of our patrons and staff always comes first! With that in mind, we built custom plexiglass barriers and created new work processes to safeguard everyone. And by shifting all our operations to Central Library, we have been able to create a safe and clean space where patrons can pick up holds and conduct essential Library business while maintaining safe social distancing. As with other industries, we acknowledge that waiting lines might be longer than usual during peak times, and looking ahead, we are working to communicate the status of pick-up conditions when possible.
A typical Monday morning now looks like this: Circulation staffer Charlotte, dressed in protective gloves and face covering, is checking in holds that will go on temporary shelves in the Auditorium. Later in the day, she will be joined by Branch staff after they finish processing the morning’s returns at their home branches.
Youth Services librarians Pat, Nico and Anne are getting ready to record a live story time video in the upstairs meeting room. Administrative staffer Charlie is waiting to make a materials-run and our Facility Manager Tony is climbing a ladder to install another temporary sign. Other staff are organizing books returned from patrons for their 72-hour quarantine. This is the new reality of daily operations.
Looking ahead: What happens next?
We don’t know, yet. What we do know is, we will continue to serve our community. Some of our buildings may remain closed for the duration of the pandemic, our virtual services and online programs will continue to expand, and our digital and physical catalog will remain accessible.
What will our future library system look like? What will happen with our popular programs such as story times, language conversation and author events? All good questions which we have been studying since the beginning of this crisis. Many scenarios are being considered as we move into the fall and winter.
Thank you for your support of Arlington Public Library.
We know the last three weeks have not been easy! Not on you, and not on our staff. We appreciate your patience, and we understand your frustration. We hope that every day gets a little easier, and when it doesn’t, please let us know using this form - we welcome your feedback.
For Library account or catalog questions, please call us, or contact us through use Live Chat and Text.
Stay safe and hopeful,
Your Arlington Public Library Team.