Libraries keep patrons connected in pandemic

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BRATTLEBORO — While closed to the public due to caution around the COVID-19 pandemic, Brooks Memorial Library is now taking requests for books.

"A local facility asked for a whole box because their residents are going stir crazy," Starr LaTronica, library director, said in an interview last week. "So we'll be delivering that in a little while."

The library will bring materials outside for individuals who request them. It also is promoting the use of online services right now.

Those with library cards can download books or watch movies on brookslibraryvt.org. Cards can still be obtained by going to the website, filling out an application and sending a photo of a driver's license. They are free to residents and cost $32 for six months for non-residents who can mail checks.

LaTronica said people can still access free wireless internet by parking in front of the library. The town has temporarily suspended parking fees. The plan is to set up chairs outside the library when the weather gets nicer.

Jeanne Walsh, reference library, will remain on site answering reference questions. She's also compiling information about what services are available in the community.

"We're working to see if maybe we can offer books to be delivered to people who are getting their meals delivered to to them," LaTronica said.

Lindsay Bellville, youth services librarian, is preparing a list of resources for parents and children. Schools throughout the state are being ordered to close out of caution.

LaTronica said illustrators are doing online drawing courses and authors are reading their books on YouTube.com. Of course, she added, there is no substitute for a child to be read to by an adult in person but at least they get exposed to different books and styles.

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The library will continue to order new books and get books delivered from other libraries at the request of patrons. LaTronica said she will let people know when their reserved book is available so they can come pick it up. She expects the shelf for new books to be "nice and full" when normal operations resume.

Families can order what LaTronica described as a "grab bag of books." For instance, if they call and say they have a 6-year-old at home, library staff will collect what they deem to be appropriate then provide notification when the bag is ready.

LaTronica said the library is committed to be an important part of the community and people's lives.

"We realize people do depend on the library so we're doing our best to still serve the community, although we can't let them in," she said. "We miss them. We miss them terribly."

The staff, she said, is "pulling together to keep the public as informed as possible. And libraries all around the country are doing this. We're just lucky everyone is still healthy, and we're going to try and keep it that way."

Dover Free Library Director John Flores said patrons can call or email with requests and staff will leave materials in the foyer. Materials will be delivered to elderly or unwell patrons.

In Rockingham, the librarians are all still working even though the library is closed to the public. Call 802-463-4270, visit on Facebook and message the library, chat on the website (go to rockinghamlibrary.org and click on the blue chat bubble to start a live chat with a Librarian), or email reference@rockinghamlibrary.org. Parents who are suddenly finding themselves as homeschool teachers can contact the library for help finding information and resources and can get assistance organizing fun activities on subjects for them to do with their children. Visit rockinghamlibrary.org online-activities-for-children-families to discover resources to support their families, or email the Youth Services Librarian directly at youthservices@rockinghamlibrary.org. Keep an eye on the website soon for information about virtual storytimes and library programming. During this time, the library book drop is closed and patrons are asked to hold on to materials. No fines will be accrued during this time and all due dates have been extended.

Wardsboro Public Library encouraged patrons to use resources on its website and noted that wireless access is available in the parking lot at all hours. Additionally, the library is offering free paperbook books on a bookshelf outside.

Kristopher Radder contributed to this report.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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