Monday, August 24th 2020

Hello reader!

Read on for what's happening at the library this week.

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An Update from the Library Director

Dear Brookline Library Patrons,

It has been a while since I wrote you last, and for that, please accept my apologies!

The Board of Library Trustees recently voted to keep the library buildings closed to the public through at least August and most of September, due to the recent upward trends in the COVID-19 numbers in Massachusetts and in consideration of the possible impact of the wave of returning college students. Their goal, and mine, is to make sure we are doing our utmost to keep the public and the staff safe and healthy. Furthermore, we do not currently have the staffing capacity to safely reopen the buildings, as nearly 60% of our staff is currently furloughed. We continue to monitor all news on the virus and follow the recommendations of Dr. Swannie Jett, our Health Commissioner. The Trustees will be reconsidering when we open at their September meeting.

As promised, we started contactless pickup on July 6, and it was wildly successful. As time wore on, the refrain we heard most from all of you is that you wished you could come whenever you wanted to pick up your holds, rather than dealing with the cumbersome process of making a reservation and waiting several days to come in. The second most frequent comment was that you missed seeing us. Well, we miss you, too, and we got to thinking about how we might be able to see you safely and get your items to you more easily.

We have now started offering walk-up service. Now each location has hours five days a week when you can drop by spontaneously to pick up all your items! No more arriving to find out that since we packed your bag two days ago, more items have arrived and you must return for a second or third (you all love to read!!) trip each week. Please note that we can only check out materials that are on hold for you and ready for pickup. We are not able to offer in person browsing, computers, or in-person reference, but this new service is offered with a human smile and will be easier and more timely.

The first days of the service were very successful. We served more patrons than we would have been able to with our limited amount of slots in the previous appointment-based system. We got to wave and smile and catch up with you. All three locations have stickers indicating required social distance. We have tables separating staff from patrons by the CDC-recommended six feet. There are plexiglass screens on all of the tables providing further protection. Patrons wait outside and the staff is inside, so it is all fresh air, no sharing of air. The doors are propped open, so you needn’t touch door handles. Hand sanitizer is provided at service points, as are gloves. And, of course, as per the Brookline Department of Health, everyone must wear a mask.

We recognize that even all of these safety measures may not be reassurance enough for at-risk patrons, which is why we have partnered with Mutual Aid Brookline to deliver books to you!

The Library has reached out to the Minuteman Library Network to extend all due dates until September 30. During this time no fines will be accrued, but if you feel safe doing so, please return your library materials when you are done with them; others may be waiting for them. We are accepting returns through the book drops at all Brookline Libraries, so you can return materials at any time.

You can still reach a librarian through chat, email, or by phone at: (617) 730-2370 ext 3, Mondays - Thursdays 9 AM - 9 PM and Fridays 9 AM - 5 PM.

On behalf of the staff and the Trustees, I would like to thank you all for the kind notes you have put through the book drop, the lovely YELP! reviews, and the incredible chats, emails, and letters you have sent. We appreciate them, and you, so much. These times are wearing on everyone, and a little love from the public goes a long way for all of us.

Don’t forget that we also offer the Friends Book Sale outside, weather permitting, when we are onsite. There is some great stuff out there!

We’ll let you know about any further developments as we work towards welcoming you back into the buildings!

Stay safe and well,


Sara Slymon
Library Director
Public Library of Brookline
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