Planning for Reopening
June 3, 2020
It’s been two and a half months since Yonkers Public Library (YPL) closed its doors to the public. During that time, YPL staff have found new and creative ways to serve Yonkers through virtual programs or remote reference. Still, I want to assure everyone that YPL is busily planning for its own reopening.
Libraries are considered part of the Phase 4 (arts, education, recreation and culture) of NY Forward, the state’s reopening plan. The Mid-Hudson region is still in Phase 1, and we don’t expect to fully reopen until early July. However, we have been approved to start restoring some services.
On Monday, June 15th, we will begin to offer contact-free pickup. You can learn more about that service here. If a book or DVD is currently on the shelves at one of our libraries you can request it through our online catalog. Once we’ve pulled it off the shelf we’ll check it out to you and let you know it’s ready for pickup. You can visit during our pickup times, call ahead, and we’ll have it ready for you. Learn more about the service, its procedure and hours here.
Looking further down the road, it’s important to think about what a reopened library will look and feel like. Prior to closing, YPL had crowded meeting rooms, auditoriums, reading tables and computer labs. Patrons were invited to come and stay for long periods to read, study, and use computers or Wifi.
We can’t return to those conditions, at least not right away.
When we reopen, library visits should be quick and transactional, both to limit exposure and to make space for other visitors when occupancy is limited. Even after we reopen we will take some time to reintroduce public computers and seating at our reading tables. Once introduced, you can still expect fewer computers, seats, and session lengths in order to maintain social distancing and keep patrons circulating in and out of the library.
We love our programs – from storytimes to computer classes to cultural performances – but it will take some time before we can offer them again safely. In the meantime will continue to offer virtual programs through Zoom and other platforms.
Like all other indoor establishments, visitors and staff alike will be expected to wear masks while inside the library. When using a high touch surface like a public computer computer we’ll provide gloves and expect patrons to wear them.
We look forward to the day when we can return to hosting packed children’s events, book discussions around a table, and all day study sessions. But we believe that a reopened library, even one with limited services, will be a major milestone in the recovery and rebuilding process. We look forward to seeing you again, and we’ll be smiling behind our masks.
We were pleased that the City Council voted to approve the City of Yonkers Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 20-21. This budget provides a small (1.4%) net increase in funding from the FY19-20 budget. We thank the Mayor and City Council for affirming the value of library service, even during an extremely challenging budget and with forced closures of our buildings. We also thank our many patrons and supporters that wrote to the City Clerk to express their support for sustained funding.
During last month’s City Council budget hearing I was pleased to give the following presentation about the library’s service during the Coronavirus pandemic, its plans for the reopening, and its role in Yonkers’ recovery. I include it here as a document of how YPL staff rose to the occasion during this difficult time.
Library Director, Yonkers Public Library