Dear Library Members:
I am writing to inform you of some temporary service changes at Yonkers Public Library (YPL) that will go into effect after Thanksgiving. The changes are being made in response to rising levels of COVID-19 in Yonkers, and out of concern for the health safety of YPL’s patrons and staff. They are as follows:
A Temporary Return to Contact Free Pickup (Estimated timeline: November 27-December 6)
Starting Friday, 11/27, all YPL locations will temporarily revert to Contact-Free Pickup service (ie, curbside pickup, but in our lobbies) for the week following Thanksgiving break. During that time, community access to library buildings, computers and shelf browsing will be suspended. You can request books, DVDs, or other library items through our online catalog. Choose the YPL location where you’d like to pick them up. We will notify you when they are available. To learn more, visit our Contact Free Pickup page.
We feel this is important to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 following holiday gatherings. We will monitor the health of staff and the community and hope to reopen to in-branch services at Will Library and Riverfront Library on Monday, December 7. Please note that due to its small size and the difficulty it presents to social distancing we plan to maintain Contact Free Pickup at the Crestwood Library for a longer period as we determine the safety of allowing in-branch visits.
Revised Hours of Service (effective November 30)
Riverfront and Will Library:
A Temporary Reduction in Public Service Hours
Starting next Monday, November 30, YPL will temporarily reduce its public service hours. Although YPL’s goal is to provide as much public access at possible, it is difficult for YPL staff to operate safely due to small, crowded workrooms and processing spaces. We are transitioning to a public service model that will rely on fewer staff in the building, and with library staff split into different teams working on different days. We feel that this will reduce the risk of infection among staff members, and will hopefully avoid situations where libraries need to close for extended periods due to outbreaks that require quarantining among all staff. Ultimately, we feel this gives us the best chance of maintaining consistent library service through this next phase of the pandemic before a vaccine becomes available.
A Renewed Emphasis on Virtual Programs and Services
When our staff are not in the buildings they will stay busy working remotely. When we were forced to fully close in March, staff developed a virtual programming calendar almost overnight that has continued throughout reopening. Since our original closure in March, YPL staff have led more than 900 virtual programs with a combined attendance of 14,000. We are confident that staff are now in an even better position to create and refine new virtual programs and services. They are also able to answer patron emails and phone calls, provide account support, process library card applications, create web and video content, lead or moderate virtual programs, and work on other special projects.
Thank You for Your Support and Understanding
YPL was the first large library in Westchester to reopen after the Spring shutdown, right after the region entered Phase 4. We’ve tried to be as open and accessible as we could while maintaining staff and patron safety, and in doing so we were able to serve the public in many ways, including:
- Serving as a charging and cooling center after Tropical Storm Isaias
- Teaming with the City of Yonkers on census outreach. YPL staff helped over 950 hard-to-count residents get counted during the Census – and in doing so will help Yonkers recover an estimated $2.3 million a year in federal funds over the next decade that might have been lost if those residents weren’t counted
- Digitizing over 1.2 million pages of Yonkers newspaper for local researchers and historians through the Yonkers News Archive
- Hosting early voting at Riverfront and Will libraries – where nearly 20,000 voters cast their ballots
With the increasing prevalence of COVID-19 we feel these changes in library service are the safe and responsible measures for the near future. We plan on being responsive to the changing facts, and will restore hours and services when case levels begin to drop. Hopefully that will be soon. We appreciate the support and guidance that we’ve been given by the City of Yonkers, the YPL Board of Trustees, our elected officials, and you – the Yonkers community. We intend to continue offering excellent and valuable service both onsite and remotely to Yonkers residents.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. Thank you again for your support, and have a safe but enjoyable Thanksgiving.
Library Director, Yonkers Public Library