I am updating this welcome message as 2020 draws to a close. I don’t need to call to mind what a challenging year it has been for all of us. Yet year-ends are a good time to reflect on what went well, what could have been better, and what we plan for the future.
I hope you will agree that we more than met the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by finding new ways to deliver old services and keeping our community connecting, exploring, sharing, and discovering together. A short list of those efforts follows:
- On March 16, we created a #BeSafeAtHome campaign and invited everyone in Somerset County to register and begin using the expanding list of library resources that are just a mouse click away;
- We sent frequent updates to all our borrowers about our growing list of available resources and services;
- When masks were in short supply, our staff sewed them for community first responders;
- We were the first library in the state to find a way for our borrowers to pick up their holds safely and by appointment with our HandsFreeHolds service;
- We were among the very first libraries in the state to safely reopen on the first practical day the Governor allowed (July 6, the first day after Independence Day weekend);
- We have accelerated our purchase of e-books and downloadable audio and added other resources to our online collection, including PressReader, which links you to an up-to-the-minute worldwide collection of magazines and newspapers;
- We purchased additional wifi hotspots to better equip those in our community who do not have broadband internet access for school and work from home;
- We moved our storytimes, lectures, concerts, and book discussion groups online.
We believe libraries play a vital role by being that place in the community where people come together to exchange ideas, culture, entertainment, and knowledge, all at no cost. COVID-19 hasn’t changed that, but it has challenged us to find new ways to make it happen. We will carry forward many of the changes we have made – such as providing online programs – because they are working well and are convenient for so many. What will not change is our commitment to outstanding customer service in providing you with the very best in contemporary library resources.
Brian K. Auger