Letters from the Director
Greetings from the Director’s Office!
This is usually one of the Library’s busiest weeks, welcoming the children back to the Library after school, fresh from their summer vacations, and looking forward to the new academic year. In the time of COVID, we are all missing the comfort of our routines, our annual rituals disrupted by the virus.
We miss all of our patrons terribly, although we have been glad to see some of you through the plexiglass and across the tables as you pick up your holds.
There is no firm date at which we will allow patrons back into the Libraries to browse and use our printing and computer services. The Trustees and I are concerned about the impact of students returning to school, college, and university. We will revisit this topic at our meeting in early October to try to pin down a date.
In the meantime, I am pleased to announce several new and exciting initiatives:
- All due dates are extended until November 2.
- We are working with the schools to help ensure that every child in Brookline has a library card in good standing to begin this challenging new school year.
- Museum passes will be made available again very soon. We are working with the museums to make sure they are open and accepting passes and hope to roll them out soon.
The Putterham restroom construction project is humming along nicely. We look forward to presenting the public with two new, ADA-compliant restrooms when we reopen. Today we picked tile and grout, both in lovely natural colors to keep with the theme of bringing nature into our little mid-century modern gem.
Many of you have asked about donating books and materials to the Library. We will begin accepting donations EXCLUSIVELY at the Brookline Village location, effective immediately. At this time, please do not donate magazines, textbooks, or encyclopedias. We have limited storage space due to our modified workflows due to COVID. We appreciate your support at the ongoing book sale at all three locations and look forward to seeing what you have to donate!
The primary election went very well, and we look forward to seeing you all in November!!
Dear Brookline Library Patrons,
It has been a while since I wrote you last, and for that, please accept my apologies!
Last week the Board of Library Trustees 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.
Today, August 17, we started 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 day of the service was 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.
On behalf of the staff and the Trustees, I would like to thank you all for the kind notes you have put through the bookdrop, 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,
Public Library of Brookline
Dear Brookline Library Patrons:
Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as the Library staff try to navigate the new work environment we find ourselves in during the global pandemic.
On Monday, July 6, we started contactless pickup. Like all rollouts, we experienced some bumps and bruises, but for the most part it is going smoothly.
I have noticed that many of you are using the “notes” section of the reservation system to ask for us to make a variety of exceptions. It pains us all that we cannot accommodate special requests at this time, but as I am sure most of you know, we sustained a nearly 60% cut to our staff. We are currently working with 20 people spread across the three buildings, and we are processing over 500 bags per day. We are also pulling the books for new hold requests, checking in nearly four months of book drop returns, and unpacking dozens of boxes of delivery each day. We have 20 folks working from home answering phones, chat, and email, nonstop.
Some things we have seen that we cannot accommodate:
- We cannot call you to discuss the holds. Please feel free to call a reference librarian at: (617) 730 2370 (ext. 3), and they can walk you through any questions.
- We cannot do partial pickups. You must pick up all of the items that are on hold and available for you. If there is something in your bag that you don’t want anymore, please just drop it right into the book drop, and we will check it in after a three-day quarantine.
- We cannot respond to questions in the notes field. Please call, email, or chat with a reference librarian.
- Once we have prepared your bag for pickup, we may not be able to add additional items that may have come in for you. We will do our best, but we pack the bags in the morning and sometimes things arrive late in the afternoon.
Some common questions:
- Are there signs to help me find the pickup location? The pickup locations at Brookline Village (Main Library) and Coolidge Corner are right near the front doors. Putterham is down the driveway at the entrance to the program room.
- What about rain? If it begins to rain, we will move the items into the vestibules and prop open the front door.
- Will someone put things in my car? We are not currently offering that service.
- Do I have to have a car? No!
- May I convert my e-card to a physical card? Yes! DO put that in the notes, and we will place your new library card in your bag!
- Are you accepting donations of books / other materials? Not at this time. Please do not put donations in the book drops or leave them outside our buildings.
- Can I return items? Yes! Book drops are open during the following hours:
- 9 AM – 5 PM Monday, Tuesday, Saturday
- 1 – 9 PM Wednesday, Thursday
- 1 – 9 PM Monday, Tuesday
- 9 AM – 5 PM Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
- 1 – 9 PM Monday, Tuesday
- 9 AM – 5 PM Thursday, Friday, Saturday
We hope that you are enjoying the service. Please stay tuned for any further developments as we work towards welcoming you back into the buildings!
Stay safe and well,
Public Library of Brookline
Dear Brookline patrons,
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your patience, understanding, and concern during this difficult time. So many of you have reached out in the past weeks and months to tell us how much you have been missing the Libraries; all of us here have been so grateful for your words of warmth. We miss you all, as well.
We are very excited to share information about Stage 3: Contactless Pickup, which will begin on July 6. We know that so many of you value the physical collections we have, and we’re pleased to be able to make those available, once more. Whether you’ve had items on hold since March or have just started placing holds this week, we look forward to getting items back out to your hands.
We’re here for you while The Public Library of Brookline is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please take advantage of our virtual offerings. We will begin to offer contactless pickup of library materials at all locations beginning July 6, 2020. We appreciate your patience as we all adjust to the new realities of library service.
With the exception of audio/visual materials and WiFi Hotspots, our Library of Things and iPads are currently unavailable.
Your items currently on hold with a status of “Ready for Pickup” will be available for pickup at the location where they are being held.
You have three options for ordering items:
- Place a hold via the online catalog or MLN app
- Chat with a librarian via our website Monday – Thursday 9 AM – 5:30 PM and Friday 9 AM – 5 PM. Starting July 6, chat hours are Monday – Thursday 9 AM – 9 PM and Friday 9 AM – 5 PM.
- Call a librarian during the above hours at 617-730-2370 (ext 3).
We are unable to check the library shelves on demand for a title.
Booking an Appointment
Starting July 1, once you receive notice from the Library that your item is READY FOR PICKUP, please book an appointment for pickup. You may book an appointment through the Contactless Pickup website (brklib.com/pickup), through chat, or by phone. Same day appointments are not available.
If you use The RIDE as transportation to the Public Library of Brookline, please choose any appointment time on the day that you plan to pick up your items. In the “Notes for Library Staff” section, specify that you use The RIDE (or inform the librarian who is booking your appointment via chat or phone). Once this is noted, your bag(s) of materials will be available for pickup at any time on the date that you booked your appointment.
Picking up Items
Pickup locations include:
Arrive at the Library during your appointment time. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing while approaching the pickup area. Retrieve the bag containing your item(s), which will be clearly labeled with your last name and the first three letters of your first name. Your materials will already be checked out on your card, and a receipt will be inside your bag. Enjoy your library materials!
For the safety of our staff and patrons, we will not open our Library doors and are unavailable to speak face-to-face. If you have questions, please call us at 617-730-2370 (ext 3).
If you miss your appointment or cancel less than 24 hours before your appointment, you will have an opportunity to schedule one additional pickup appointment before the items in your bag are canceled and returned to the shelves.
No fines will have accrued during the quarantine period, but they will resume after June 30. Based on CDC guidance provided to the Institute for Museums and Library Services, items will be quarantined for 72 hours after you return them and before we check them in. All items will be backdated to the date that you returned them.
Starting July 6 these book drop locations will be open during Library business hours:
- Brookline Village- book drop closest to School Street at the Main Entrance
- Coolidge Corner- the right book drop at the Main Entrance
- Putterham- both book drops at the Main Entrance
We implore you not to leave library materials outside the Libraries when the book drops are closed, as we cannot be responsible for damage or theft.
Thank you for your patience and support as we transition to serving you with contactless pickup and returns. We are excited to be back in the buildings and thrilled to be able to offer you physical materials after the long hiatus.
The Staff of the Public Library of Brookline
Greetings to the Brookline Community!
On Monday, June 15, we will begin offering the following services:
The book drops at all three libraries will be open.
You may return items Mon-Fri, 9-5. Please do not leave any library materials outside as we cannot be responsible for theft or damage.
All materials will be quarantined for three days after you return them. They will continue to show on your record as “checked out,” but you will accrue no fines for the quarantine period. We have over 37,000 Brookline items checked out at this time. If you return items and they don’t come off your card after a week, please let us know. You may return materials from other Minuteman libraries. We do not accept returns for Boston Public Library or for the Brookline Public Schools.
We are pleased to announce that, weather permitting, we will have book sale materials available outside to purchase. The book sale will operate on an honor system: select your materials and place your payment in an envelope. Put the envelope in the book drop. We cannot make change at this time. Don’t forget: all book sale proceeds go directly to support library programming through the Friends of the Library.
**We are still not accepting print or audio/visual donations of any kind** Please do not put donations outside the libraries or in the book drop.
The Library has a limited number of tax forms and instructions. We will put them outside, and when they are exhausted they cannot be replenished. Please be considerate of your neighbors and only take one of each item you need.
More galleys! Sometimes called ARC’s (Advance Reader’s Copy), librarians are frequently given copies of books before publication for review. We have all pitched in whatever we have and will have trucks of freebies outside for you to take home. Please share them with a friend or put them in the Little Free Libraries around town when you are done; we do not need them back.
We are so looking forward to getting all caught up, and, on July 6, moving to Stage 3: Contactless Pickup.
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-July3)
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
Dear Friends in the Brookline Community:
It is with heavy heart that I report that the Public Library of Brookline will remain shuttered until at least June 29, in keeping with the closure of the Brookline Public Schools and all schools in the Commonwealth. We miss you all very much, and know that you miss us, too. Keep an eye on social media for a glimpse of some of our faces smiling out at you.
As the COVID-19 epidemic in Massachusetts begins to subside, we will begin to prepare in earnest to reopen as soon as we can and welcome you back.
Don’t forget we are offering lots and lots of wonderful services online!
With fondest regards,
Due to the Governors’ announcement this afternoon, the Library will remain closed through May 4. We understand that this is an inconvenience in the short term, but know that it will protect our public and our staff during this difficult time.
I want to take a moment to thank you all for your patience during this unprecedented public health emergency. I am pleased to announce that, effective tomorrow, the entire Library staff will be beyond the window whereby they could have been infected with COVID-19 while interacting with the public at work. No one has become ill, and for that we are grateful.
While the staff have been at home, they have been working hard to boot up remote services. Tomorrow, March 26, at 10 am, we will begin offering remote reference, virtual storytimes, etc. The schedule is Monday through Saturday, from 10 am – 6 pm. We hope that these services will help combat isolation and return some familiar faces to your families. There will be no staff on site, per the Governor’s order. This will mean that the staff will not have access to some of our resources, like microfilm, the closed stacks, or various reference materials. They will work through our online reference databases and will provide you the best answers they can. Our online resources will continue to be available 24/7, and can be found here.
Email and chat reference will address ONLY library reference questions; the Town asks that you please call the Emergency Operations Center for any COVID-19 related questions, as well as for any general municipal government questions:
“The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number for the call center is 617-879-5636.”
Other activities that Library staff are participating in while we are closed include making N95 masks on our 3D printers (which they took home on Monday) and sewing cotton masks on the Library sewing machines. A good portion of the staff have also volunteered to work at the Emergency Operations Center answering calls and helping the Task Force and first responders keep the Town running.
I would like to remind everyone that the Library book drops are CLOSED. Please do not leave any library materials or donations outside the Library. Thus far, this has only been a problem at the Coolidge Corner Library, so, if you live in that neighborhood or know someone who does, please help us spread the word. While we are closed, all materials will be automatically renewed, check out periods have been extended to one month, and all expiring library cards will be automatically renewed.
We are not currently able to submit our weekly column to the Brookline TAB, but we are working on it and hope to have one a week from tomorrow.
Please remember that this is a limited public service, we will not be able to book rooms, place holds, or some other regular services.
From our Library family to your family: We miss you. We will be back as soon as we can.
Sara F. Slymon
All locations of the Public Library of Brookline are closed until at least April 6. We are following the guidelines of the CDC, Public Health, and the lead of the Brookline Public Schools.
- Please visit us here for resources that you can use from the comfort of your home.
- Go here for instant library card registration.
- Information about Library closures and other notices can be found here.
All library materials will be renewed and no fines will be accrued during this health emergency.
PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE LIBRARY MATERIALS OUTSIDE THE LIBRARY. There is no staff onsite to bring them in.
We apologize for the continued inconvenience, and hope you are staying well.
Thank you so much for your patience and cooperation during this unprecedented situation. Out of an abundance of caution, we have locked the book drops at all three locations. There will be no fines or fees during the period when the libraries are closed. Auto-renewals will continue, and all due dates have been extended to a month.
We ask that you please not leave returns or donations outside the library. There is no staff onsite bringing things inside, and materials could be stolen or damaged if they remain outside for several weeks.
For more information about the library during the public health emergency, please use these links:
For Town updates:
Please use our online resources as you await the re-opening of the library. Many of our vendors have lifted the monthly borrowing limit and extended due dates:
To obtain a library card instantly:
Stay safe, and keep reading!
Dear Library Patrons:
The Board of Library Trustees have made the difficult, but necessary, decision to follow the lead of the Brookline Public Schools and close all Library locations through at least March 27. All decisions to close public libraries are made in consultation with public health professionals, Town administration, and Library leadership. We understand, and deeply regret, the inconvenience this will cause our loyal patrons.
We have extended our loan periods on all items to 4 weeks. All fines accrued during this health emergency will be waived.
We thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we face this health emergency together.
Sara Slymon, Library Director, on behalf of a unanimous Board of Library Trustees.
The current health emergency is causing anxiety across our community. The Town and the Library are sensitive to that, and want to apprise you of the steps we are taking to address the situation.
The Public Library of Brookline is working closely with the Brookline Office of Public Health and other Town Departments to monitor the latest information and guidelines provided by the by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Library’s highest priority is the health and well-being of library users, staff and volunteers. To help ensure that our library is safe and welcoming to all, we have implemented a strategy that prioritizes prevention. At present, there is no change in our hours, however, we are taking the following precautions:
- In response to the Governor’s State of Emergency declaration and recommendation that non-essential gatherings be canceled, we are canceling all library programs through April 30, 2020.
- We are also closing our public meeting rooms to outside use through April 30, 2020 and will be in touch with any group scheduled to use these spaces.
- You will find hand sanitizer at all public service desks. Our restrooms have plenty of hot water and soap for washing hands.
- We are doubling down on our cleaning of high-touch areas, such as door handles, stair railings, public computers, and other surfaces.
- There is COVID-19 information posted throughout the library building.
- Out of an abundance of caution, we are removing toys, puzzles, Chromebooks, Launchpads, and games from our public areas. We will re-introduce these popular items as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.
Things are changing quickly and the library will continue to work closely with the Brookline Office of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to determine if other actions are warranted. Please check the library website and social media for frequent updates.
Remember – here are a few things you can do to help take care of your health and help protect others:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water (20 seconds of scrubbing) or use alcohol-based hand cleaners (cover all surfaces and rub until dry).
- Cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately into a trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, which accelerates the spread of infections.
- If you’re not feeling well, please stay home.
- Visit https://www.brooklinema.gov/covid-19 for the latest Town updates and information on COVID-19.
It is important to remember that COVID-19 isn’t connected to race, ethnicity or nationality. Stigma will not help fight the illness. Sharing accurate information from trusted sources is critical to reduce misinformation. Find reliable and current information about the outbreak from local, state, and national agencies below.
Please sign up here for Alert Brookline to receive push notifications from the Town.
We thank you for your continued support and for helping keep Brookline safe and welcoming.
Trusted Health Resources
- Brookline’s Office of Public Health
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Enjoy Your Library from the Comfort of Your Home
- eBooks, Digital Media, Online Resources, Databases, and Journals
- Get a Library Card (immediate access to digital resources)
This letter was updated 3/16/2020 to remove the link to Public Library of Brookline’s Ask a Librarian service. This service is unavailable while the libraries remain closed.