As we endure the 10th month of the pandemic many activities still remain off-limits. But if communities having access to books, reading should not be one. However, the Saratoga Springs Public Library’s response to the pandemic has made this opportunity difficult. Initially when the library reopened, their “Phase 2” response led to waiting over a week after requesting a book, having it be pulled from the shelf and then setting up an appointment to pick it up (which wasn’t possible on the same day). Then over the summer in accordance with the lower positivity rate, in-person browsing was allowed which made borrowing books much more possible. Throughout the pandemic, books undergo a 4-day quarantine, even though “spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads” (CDC).
Now, however, the library as of January 11 has closed again and no books are being lent out. I appreciate the vigilance the library is taking in their response to COVID-19. Nevertheless, accessibility to reading materials is even more crucial whilst the public is inside with limited activities. There are other options than completely closing down the library and should be greater nuance in the protocol as more is learned about the virus. Lack of access to the library affects those lower in socioeconomic status disproportionately who don’t have the means to obtain books otherwise.
Many other downtown businesses have adapted curbside pickup programs which fills orders within 1-2 hours and allows minimal contact between customers and staff. Was this considered for the library?
There are many more options that allow library staff to still feel safe but ensuring tax-paying community members still have access to reading materials while waiting out the pandemic. I am asking the Saratoga Spring Public Library to reconsider its current policy to become more user friendly and allow the public to have access to reading materials.
- Kathryn Cuneo, Saratoga Springs