Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library patrons can now peruse the stacks. BHML reopened Oct. 13 with a five-person limit at 30 minutes per person per visit. Assistant Director Harolyn Hylton said the first day was as busy as could be expected on a windy and rainy day, but a calm and relaxing reopening was refreshing for the staff who have been busy with curbside services since March.
“A lot of people who came in today took from the new section. We did have them displayed in the windows before, but there's nothing like browsing them yourself.”
Hylton said staff have worked the mystery genre into the entire fiction collection; many fiction writers regularly cross over into other genres. So the change made sense, and it made room to shift non-fiction upstairs and move large print, DVD’s, audiobooks and other multimedia into the front entrance room. “It's a little different in here now, but it's nice and clean and there's more space.”
Staff closed the community room upstairs due to poor ventilation; that space is serving as storage until things change, Hylton said. To make the area more appealing, dozens of magazine covers from past months were hung in a collage on the windows and glass door facing the stairway.
Hylton said the reopening comes as a pleasant change from the curbside service grind over the past several months which included a campaign to help people learn how to look up and request titles online, countless runs around the stacks and synopses aplenty read over the phone.
“It was actually busier, but it was good because we got to really know our patrons and what they like. By the end, we were just recommending stuff more than we normally would. And it was fun that way.”
Executive Director Joanna Breen said opening back up is exciting and in some ways a relief. Breen echoed Hylton’s sentiment that curbside service has been labor intensive, but she credited her and Circulation Coordinator Meg Donaldson’s hard work.
Breen said reopening is stressful because she felt the surefire way to keep staff, volunteers and the public safe was to remain closed. That is why many rules have been implemented like sanitization upon entering, masking, and a pattern of travel into the building, checking out materials and leaving the building.
Said Breen, “At the end of the day, we all wanted to open up and do whatever it takes to welcome folks safely back in … Opening brings a little bit of normalcy back to our days, which we all need. I hope having the library stacks open will fuel our resilience this winter.”