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EDITORIAL: Libraries continue mission during pandemic

EDITORIAL: Libraries continue mission during pandemic

The Wallingford Public Library opened for limited computer access Monday and plans to expand services on July 15, but not to fully reopen the building.

This is another small step toward what we used to accept as normal life, back when we didn’t have to think about such ordinary things, back before the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, of course, this is not normal at all: A limited number of computers will be available at the library — by appointment only, for one hour only, and for Wallingford residents only. Face masks and social distancing of at least six feet will be required. Library staff won't be available to assist at the computers, but patrons who need help can bring a computer-savvy friend or relative. Virtual programs for children, teens, and adults are ongoing.

“Some of our residents really need access to computers to apply for jobs, benefits, housing,” Library Director Jane Fisher has said. “We want to accommodate them as soon as we can safely do so.”

Indeed, with all of those conditions, reservations and adjustments, our local libraries are trying their level best to continue serving the public.

Southington Library patrons are able to pick up books and other materials through a new on-demand pickup service. They can also call and talk to a librarian, or use the online Book Matchmaker. Wireless printing is also planned.

“We are working on trying to provide as many services as possible,” Library Director Kristi Sadowski said.

The Meriden Public Library is “working rigorously” to meet Gov. Ned Lamont’s safety provisions before reopening, according to a statement posted on its website by library Director Clevell S. Roseboro II. 

Meanwhile, the Bedtime Storytime and Sing & Stomp programs for children are available via Zoom.

The Cheshire Public Library will continue to offer a wide variety of virtual events and activities throughout the summer. The library’s book drop is open, but all returned materials will be quarantined for seven days before they are checked in — another stark reminder of the difficult time we’re all living in.

Librarians “are still available to answer your informational and technology questions by phone or email,” according to a notice on the CPL website, but further expansion of library services will depend on ability to meet local and state safety standards.

We commend our local libraries for offering what services they can during this pandemic, and hope to see them fully open — eventually.

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