Dear Patrons and Friends,
I hope you and your families are staying well.
It has been nearly nine (long!) weeks since our library building, along with all other PA public libraries, was closed by the Department of Education/Office of Commonwealth Libraries as part of the state’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
During this time, I hope you’ve taken advantage of the many services we’ve offered virtually and remotely through the UDPL Resource Center, like 24/7 access to thousands of ebooks and other econtent as well as Ask-a-Librarian hours. You’ve probably also noticed that the librarians have been hard at work preparing and hosting virtual storytimes, classes, book discussions and game nights. Did you see how the UDPL’s 3D printers are supporting healthcare workers? Check out our calendar of upcoming events here.
While we’re providing you with ebooks and inviting you to participate in virtual programs, we know there really is no substitute for “going to the Library.” However, as we consider this new, socially-distanced landscape, we librarians everywhere have to balance the hasty desire to reopen our buildings with careful consideration for and implementation of measures designed to keep the community and staff safe. Any reopening will happen gradually, and much of what we’re offering virtually will remain so for some time to come. The librarians are even now planning a virtual Summer Reading Club! Stay tuned!
When will the Library building reopen?
It seems that ever since our Library building was closed on March 13, we’ve been preparing to reopen. The UDPL has been actively involved in discussions among state library leadership and the Pennsylvania Library Association as well as contributing to reopening plans for libraries in Montgomery County. I can tell you with certainty that there is a lot to be considered in these times. I will summarize for you here the four main conditions that need to be met before the UDPL can begin to reopen.
1. The UDPL needs to move. Had the COVID-19 pandemic never occurred, we would have been closed for most of May in order to move to our new home at 520 Virginia Drive. While construction had been shut down for about six weeks, it resumed on May 1. We are currently revising the construction schedule and are making plans to move. In addition to all of the benefits of this new facility, the larger space will enable us to provide library services while also maintaining recommended social distancing measures.
2. The UDPL needs to implement reopening plans. Having a clear and well-articulated reopening plan in place is essential. Guidelines for managing staff and patron interactions safely are being developed at every stage of reopening. Acquiring protective gear for staff, like masks and gloves, and developing procedures for quarantining incoming and outgoing books for 48 hours are just some of the considerations that need to be made before we can begin to reopen.
3. The UDPL needs staffing restored. At this time, nearly two-thirds of the Upper Dublin Library staff have been furloughed. As we plan for reopening under new guidelines that require distancing among staff, frequent breaks for hand-washing and mask relief, among other measures, restoration of staffing will be imperative.
4. The State must permit us to reopen. We are closely monitoring the Governor’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania, which categorizes reopening into three, broad phases: red, yellow, and green. Pennsylvania’s southeastern region, including Montgomery County, was the hardest hit with cases of COVID-19, and remains in the Red Phase at this time with stay-at-home orders in place until at least June 4. It is our understanding that staff will be permitted to enter their libraries and begin preparing to gradually offer library services again once we enter the Yellow Phase; we currently await further guidance from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. For more on reopening libraries from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, see their frequently asked questions here.
We will share new developments as they arise through our enews. Please share these messages with your neighbors and help us spread the word. We appreciate your patience with us as we navigate these uncharted waters. Know that all of us at the UDPL miss you and cannot wait to see you again.
Stay well and keep reading,
Cheri Fiory, Director
Fortunately, COVID-19 cannot stop us from recommending some great books!
My latest COVID-19 readlist:
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (Overdrive audio)–mythical and mysterious; read by the author
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Overdrive audio)–his latest fascinating work; the audio is brought to a new level with excerpts of quotes from historic figures and interviewees presented in their own voices