An update from Sara Slymon

May 29, 2020

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To our patrons in the Brookline Community:
This past three months has been one of the most unusual times in American history. I hope that all of you have been well and healthy during the pandemic. For those of you stricken by illness or loss, please know that our hearts go out to you.

We are so anxious to get back to serving you in person and providing you physical materials, but we need to make sure that we are able to do that in a way that is safe for both you and our
staff. Each municipality has been on its own with regard to decisions about library service. Governor Baker did not mention libraries at all throughout the pandemic, and we were not included in the Governor’s main re-opening plan. Some libraries have started providing curbside service already. We do not believe that curbside service of library materials is safe yet.

We anticipate lagging behind retail establishments somewhat substantially. When you purchase a new TV or get some take out, you do not then return all the packaging after keeping it in your house for a few weeks. Physical library materials are returned to us. Staff must handle them. Then they are re-circulated to the public. It is simply impossible for us, particularly after sustaining significant staff reductions, to sanitize every item that is returned to us. Please know that the few local libraries offering curbside pickup are outliers, and that service is not endorsed for this area at this time by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners or the Massachusetts Library Association.

We are so grateful for your patience with us thus far, and we beg your patience for a bit longer. The staff will return to the closed buildings in mid-June to clear out the massive backlog that we have accrued. Currently, there are nearly 40,000 physical items checked out from our three libraries. We have over 100 boxes of transit waiting to be delivered and an outstanding hold list of 4,000 items. We are also excited to report that we have $60,000 worth of new materials to catalog and make available. To process all of these materials and offer the staff necessary training will take a couple of weeks.

The Library has a staged re-opening plan:

Stage 1: all staff working from home (we are in this stage now).
Stage 2: staff returns to buildings to process backlog (June 15-July 3)
Stage 3: contactless pickup (July 6- )
Stage 4: patrons return to buildings (following strict guidelines, timing to be determined)

All three library locations will begin accepting returns on Monday, June 15, from 9 am through 5 pm. At 5pm, the book drops will be locked until the next morning. We implore you not to leave library materials outside the libraries when the book drops are closed, we cannot be responsible for damage or theft. There will be no staff in the buildings on Saturday, July 4, or Sunday, July 5, and the book drops will be locked.

The Library will begin offering “Contactless Pickup” on Monday, July 6. All three locations will be putting holds out for folks to pick up by appointment. At that time there will be no in-library service. We should have a clearer picture of the health outlook for the community and our surrounding communities in early July, and we should be able to offer an estimate of when we will be able to welcome the community back into our buildings.

At the time of this writing, there are still no libraries in the Minuteman network or in Boston that are open to the public.

Please continue to enjoy our many online offerings, including our latest virtual library branch on Animal Crossing!


Sara F. Slymon
Library Director