CHESHIRE — As the summer begins, many people are starting to slowly emerge from their quarantine, still wary of what the future may hold.
Some may be looking to pass the time, and ease the anxiety, with a good book. That means many are paying close attention to what’s happening at their local library.
Libraries, under the standards put out by Gov. Ned Lamont, were part of the phase-two reopening plan for Connecticut. Although some libraries were ready to open in mid-June, the Cheshire Public Library is taking things a little more slowly.
“We have started doing contactless pickup and drop-off of books,” said Library Director Beth Crowley. “People can call us and place holds on books — five per person — and we will put it outside for you. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.”
While Crowley is unsure when the doors will open to the public again, she and her team have been working hard to make sure the facility is safe when that day does arrive.
“We have Plexiglass barriers at all the public service desks, reduced the number of computers, and removed the children’s play area,” she said. “We really don’t want people gathering or crowding around the library to sit and stay for a while.”
Crowley does want the public to know that, although they might not be welcome to stay and read a whole newspaper or magazine, the library in the coming weeks will begin to open for some essential services, like printing and providing tax forms.
As for the books themselves, Crowley and her team have come up with an interesting way of ensuring that they are properly sanitized and safe for the next reader.
“We are using time as a sanitizer,” she said. “We are not wiping down books because we don’t want to damage them, but we have dedicated areas within the library where they will sit for a week in order to make sure that they are ready to go out to the next person.”
Crowley knows Cheshire residents are eager to go back to their daily life, and promises the library will still offer innovative and exciting programs, despite the pandemic.
“All our virtual programming is staying as-is for the summer,” she said.
Other area libraries have also begun to open. The Wallingford Public Library opened for limited computer access Monday and plans to expand services next week, but not to fully reopen the building.
"Some of our residents really need access to computers to apply for jobs, benefits, housing," Library Director Jane Fisher said.
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.
The Meriden public library is still working on its reopening plan.