Thursday, August 19th 2021
Dear Brookline Community Members:

Summer is winding down, and I am sorry to report, COVID is winding back up. Although we are nowhere near the peaks we saw last winter, the whole country is trending in the wrong direction, just as we prepare to head back inside in group settings.

We have had many inquiries from the public regarding what services at the library will look like in September. The Board of Trustees and I have watched with growing alarm as outbreaks continue to spring up in schools in the South, where students have already returned to the classrooms. We worry, too, about the conclusion of summer travels, the return of college students, and the relaxation of regulations almost everywhere.

This letter is especially important to our families whose children spend extended periods of time in the libraries after school. We are not going to be able to offer normal services in September. The list below is a preliminary guide to what the libraries in Brookline will, and will not, be able to offer this fall:
  • All programming will be virtual.
  • All staff and visitors must wear a face covering, defined here, when inside any library, including in study rooms, restrooms, etc. The face covering must cover the mouth and nose completely at all times. Everyone age 2 and up must comply.
  • Capacity limits will be implemented. Throughout the summer, our slowest season, we saw an average of 1600 visitors per day across our three locations. We used CARES Act money to purchase density monitors for all locations so we can monitor how many folks are in the buildings/rooms. We have not set the numbers firmly yet, but we will not be able to accommodate full capacity, and this will have a noticeable impact on rooms which serve youth, particularly between 2:30-5:30. This will mean that at times, some guests will not be able to enter the library and families should not plan on the Library being a standard part of their after school care plan.
  • Community rooms will remain unavailable for bookings. At this time, the Library has been advised to keep staff as separate as possible for break time, similar to what children are doing in the schools. In order to follow that safety advice, we must continue to use the community rooms as break rooms.
  • Eating and drinking will be prohibited at the library. Patrons will be allowed to briefly raise their masks to take a sip of water as necessary, but we will not be able to offer the opportunity for leisurely sipping and snacking.
  • Social distancing will be requested. We will have markings in front of all service desks to indicate adequate spacing. We will ask folks to remain at least 6’ apart. This will require limiting the number of computers we have available.
  • Children and families will be asked to enter the Brookline Village location through our newly opened Garden entrance, behind the monument near School St.
  • Please refresh your knowledge of our Unattended Child Policy. Children who have not yet reached their 9th birthdays may not be in the library without a caretaker who is 13 years old or older.

Believe it or not, there are some cool upsides on offer:
  • At the Brookline Village location, construction has begun on a lovely new Children’s Garden. It will be fenced, with a reading area for future story times. There will be benches and tables, and an assortment of comfy Adirondack chairs. We hope to have some toys and climbing structures out in September.
  • We will add new picnic tables outside all three locations. They will be stationed within range of our Wi-Fi, and patrons can borrow laptops to take outside and enjoy!
  • We will offer beepers when we reach capacity, so you can stay on property until we have space inside. We hope this takes some of the anxiety out of worrying about getting in when it is your turn.
  • There will be a magnificent new bench installed at Coolidge Corner. The bench is organically shaped, and evokes the midcentury architecture of the building.
  • We have added to our collection of loanable technology, so it will be easier than ever to get a laptop, iPad, or other gadget.
  • In September, the Coolidge Corner location will offer a Tool Library. You will be able to borrow a rototiller, or a hammer, or the stuff you need to paint your apartment….stay tuned for the full inventory!
In the last 18 months, I have written a lot of letters to you. This one feels extra important. Please share with neighbors and friends, especially families with school-aged children. As we have all spent the summer living under a variety of COVID restrictions, we want to be transparent in our goals and communications as we all come back together in Brookline this fall.

Due to the nature of the pandemic, please be mindful that things can change quickly. You can always find our most recent updates (including translations into world languages) here. We also push all updates out on Facebook and Instagram, please consider following us @brklib

As always, I want to thank you all for your understanding and support as we all work through this unprecedented time together. I can speak for the Board of Trustees and all Library staff when I say, we are all looking forward to offering unfettered access to the libraries, and of course, to the end of the pandemic.


Sara F. Slymon
Library Director
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