Tuesday, December 8th 2020
Dear Devoted Patrons of the Public Library of Brookline:

Last time I checked in, we were heading into Halloween, and now here we are in the midst of winter holidays!

We were thrilled to be able to bring back most of our part-time employees on Monday, November 2. Several folks had moved out of state and didn’t return, but we are overjoyed to be working with those who did.

Due to their return, we were able to restore our hours. At this time we are operating at pre-pandemic hours at all locations, and we have even added a few hours at our Putterham location. We are still closed on Sundays but hope to restore those hours soon, as well. Our full hours are available here.

I am pleased to announce that we have begun offering many of our Library of Things materials again! You are able to take out WiFi hotspots, games and puzzles, Osmo kits, telescopes, iPads, and our Nintendo Switches, to name a few. We are delighted to get these items back into the hands of the community.

Although the library sustained a large cut to the FY 21 budget, we are proud of how many services we are still able to offer the community. It might seem sensible to think that we are not as busy without patrons in the buildings. Since the beginning of the pandemic, and continuing today, many items which we completed each day have become significantly more time consuming. I have had a few folks ponder: “What are they doing in there all day?” Your team of library professionals have ramped up and deployed so many creative ways to meet your needs during this difficult time. For example, did you know:
  • There are multiple librarians staffing the phones, chat lines, and email during all weekday hours the libraries are open, and that they weekly take roughly 460 phone calls (an increase of 60% over last year), 90 live patron chats (a 60% increase over the previous year), and 50 emails (a 16% increase over last year).
  • The library staff is offering more programs than before the pandemic. And not just for children! Adult, senior, and teen programming has increased as well. We are offering everything we did pre-pandemic, and then some.
  • Our Social Media team has been working overtime to publicize all of the changes in real time, to keep you, our public, updated with all the most current information.
  • The Collection Development Manager has been analyzing use statistics across all materials and pivoting to ensure that materials are getting into patrons’ hands. Usually they do an annual audit of the collection to plan the budget for the next year, but during the pandemic the planning has been reviewed almost monthly.
  • Staff now caption all program recordings so they are accessible.
  • Transcripts of all program recordings are typed and preserved.
  • Tents and canopies are set up and taken down depending on the weather conditions.
  • We’re working to make printing available to the public soon.

In addition to the work listed above, processing our daily jobs has become quite time consuming. We are cleaning and sanitizing work stations/surfaces and bathrooms frequently. We have to set up tables and plexiglass every day for service. We collect and quarantine returns, payments, and donations. All activities have to have designated areas, and staff is likewise divided throughout the building. These requirements make accomplishing even the most banal of tasks a good deal more time consuming. Planning and executing each level of change is also quite time consuming.

We are sympathetic to the budget woes that the Town is facing, and wanted to make sure folks know how very busy we are, even at full staff, and even without patrons inside the buildings. Your library is so dedicated to the community, and to your health and safety, we thought it was important to let you know how we are serving you behind our closed doors.

I thank you for your support and hope you have safe and happy holidays.


Sara Slymon
Library Director

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