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Hingham Public Library To Remain Closed Pending More Data In October

Kristen Arute, Hingham Current Staff, September 17, 2020

Hingham Current file photo / Kristen Arute

Library Director Linda Harper provided the Board of Trustees with an update on library services on Wednesday night. She began by praising her staff for the way they have been able to adapt to doing their jobs amid the challenges presented by COVID. "They have been working out of their areas of comfort," explained Harper. "It isn't easy to take everything you've known for years and years and suddenly have to reinvent the wheel in short order and meet everyone's expectations." On top of pivoting to adapt to "the new normal," staff members have been socially distancing, wearing masks in the building and washing their hands every 20 minutes.

While the library has been closed, the library has been offering a variety of remote services that, except for in-person browsing and computer use, has met all the needs of the public. Their contactless hold service, which is essentially a curbside pick-up service, has been extremely popular. "All those people who used to come in to get their holds are now placing them remotely," said Harper. "We're filling them. We're getting them out on the tables for everyone. Demand is increasing." The only "negative" Harper identified is that it is taking a little longer for people to get their holds because all items that come into the building have to be quarantined for a minimum of three days.

The library also has a team that provides people with technical assistance. "People make appointments, then we call them back," explained Harper. "Our staff are working with people to get them where they need (to be) so that they can do all the things they need to do remotely and digitally." Reference librarians are also still hard at work calling people and helping them with research requests.

Virtual programming has been extremely popular. "A year ago who would know that our Zoom and YouTube and other programs are doing so well," said Harper. "Since we started our digital programming, we have had 2810 people attend our Zoom classes." The programs were rolled out in March but saw a significant uptick in participation during the months of July and August.

Remote access to library services will continue through the fall with programming like story time remaining on the schedule. They will even have remote guitar concerts. "I actually think we are going to reach more people digitally then we would if we offered it in person," said Harper. "Even though the building is closed, we are busy as ever."

 

She also said that reopening discussions have taken place with Town Administrator Tom Mayo and Heath Agent Susan Sarni. Mayo said that Town Hall plans to remain closed for the foreseeable future.  "Tom would like us to continue to maintain what we're doing as more data comes in in October especially with schools reopening," explained Harper. "Everyone's trying to do the right thing and keep the staff safe and keep the public safe."

In the meantime, outside parties are not able to reserve meeting rooms for the rest of the year. "We're letting everyone know that we've cancelled all previously scheduled meetings set to take place at the library between now and December 31, 2020," read an email from Peter Thornell of the Hingham Public Library, "Due to the uncertainty of the coming months, we will not be taking any new room reservations at this time, and ask that you check back in January regarding booking events in 2021."

 

Library Board of Trustees members:

  • Lucy Hancock, Chairman

  • David J. Mehegan, Vice Chairman

  • Jeremy Parker, Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer

  • Arthur T. Garrity, Jr., Secretary

  • Charles B. Abbott, Esq., Past President

  • Tom Carey, Trustee

  • Aylene Calnan, Trustee

  • Elizabeth Eldredge, Trustee

  • Mirela Izmirlic, Trustee

  • JoAnn C. Mitchell, Trustee

  • George Schwartz, Trustee

  • Edward Siegfried, Trustee

  • Thomas Ventresca, Trustee

  • Mary Power, Trustee Ex Officio

  • Paul Austin, Trustee Ex Officio

  • Jean M. Montgomery, Trustee Ex Officio

  • Linda Harper, Library Director

Kristen Arute can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.