MASSENA — The Massena Public Library will welcome patrons back into the building starting Monday.
“That’s really exciting,” library Director Elaine Dunne said.
Unlike a previous temporary opening, no reservations are required, and the library will still be able to remain within the requirements for the number of people allowed in at one time.
“People no longer have to make appointments to come in. The last time we were open they had to make appointments,” Ms. Dunne said. “We won’t reach half the capacity of our building. It’s a large-enough building that we should be fine. The staff and the board feel that we can do this safely. We’re confident that we can do this safely.”
The front desk and other areas will have plastic shields for the protection of staff and patrons, and patrons will be required to check in at the front desk when they arrive, providing their name and phone number for potential contact tracing purposes. After that, the browsing can begin. Indicators on the floor will encourage people to keep a 6-foot distance from others.
“Every part of the building will be open. People can read, but they will have to maintain the social distancing. They can sit at a table and work, but they can’t go from one table and ask questions at another table. They have to stay put. We want people to stay in their own groups,” Ms. Dunne said.
The library’s computer room has eight computers, and that will be lowered to four that will be available to ensure proper social distancing.
While patrons will not be required to wear gloves in order to handle the library’s collections, masks are a must.
“We’re just following state protocol where you need to wear your mask,” she said.
No programming will be taking place inside the library for now.
“It’s just going to be open for browsing, reading and studying,” Ms. Dunne said.
She said they plan to have a “very robust summer reading program.” But again, no activities will be taking place inside the building.
“The actual activities will either be virtual like they are now, or Ronnie (Youth Services Librarian Ronnie Tatro) is doing some public sessions at various parks around Massena. We’ll be getting the summer reading program information out soon so people know where and when and what they need to do,” she said. “We don’t want to lose the summer reading program. It’s essential, especially this year when the kids have been out of school or doing hybrid schooling. They need to keep up their reading. They need to keep at that same level, otherwise they’ll slide during the summer and go back to school reading at a lower level than when they left.”
She said patrons can also look forward to a new gardening program.
“We’ll be adding to our current garden and there will be garden programs for kids and adults hopefully,” Ms. Dunne said.
When the library’s doors were closed to the public, patrons could still get materials through curbside service, and that will remain.
“We’ve had many patrons tell us that they actually enjoy the curbside service and would like us to keep it open. We did a questionnaire and that was one of the things that did come back, so that’s a new service we’re adding. It’s good for busy people,” she said.
Ms. Dunne said people have been anxious to get back into the building.
“We’re getting a lot of calls, people asking, ‘Can we come in yet?’ We say to them, ‘Well, we can pull books for you.’ They’re like, ‘No, I just want to browse. I just want to see the books.’ It was their habit. It was part of what they did every day. They’d come in, they’d read the newspaper, they’d browse and they’d leave. It will be nice to get back to some kind of normalcy again. We’re really looking forward to it,” she said.
While they anxiously wait to open their doors again, Ms. Dunne said they accepted donations on Wednesday, Library Giving Day, as part of National Library Week. But donations are welcome any time, either via the library’s website (massenapubliclibrary.org), through an envelope marked “Library Giving Day” and dropped in the book drop, in person when the library is open or through the mail, with the envelope marked “Library Giving Day.” Donations go directly to purchase materials for the library.
“That’s our commitment,” Ms. Dunne said. “We’re always taking donations. We’re happy to take donations. When we did our survey, the one thing they said was, ‘We don’t want to lose books.’ So this is where we’re answering their call. We’re giving them what they’re looking for, but we need their help.”