Officials from the Anne Arundel County Public Library (AACPL) today announced that it is extending the suspension of in-person appointments until March 1, citing continued high numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the county and delays in the vaccine rollout.
"We've certainly had a few complaints from folks that are eager to get back inside our buildings," said AACPL's Communications Director Christine Feldmann. "But we're trying to work with everyone to get them what they need."
The decision not only impacts the library's patrons but also the staff that serve them.
"Staff are definitely disappointed that numbers of cases of new cases of COVID-19 continue to be extremely high," Feldmann said. "They are eager to see the customers as well."
"I know many residents are struggling with issues like accessing unemployment benefits or preregistering for the vaccine,” said Library CEO Skip Auld. “Library staff can help. I encourage residents who need assistance to call their local library. Our staff will work with customers to find innovative solutions to meet their needs.”
The library wants residents to feel free to contact them with any requests or needs.
"Give us a call," Feldmann said. "We are here to help."
Research assistance and book recommendations are available via chat on any page of the library’s website, via phone and by email. As part of its contactless service, the library offers free wireless printing of up to 10 black and white pages, per day, through its website and SmartALEC app.
And curbside service has been a bright spot for the library during the pandemic. Almost 100,000 people have used the service, Feldmann said. Curbside service is likely to continue past the pandemic.
"It's becoming part of our daily lives now, to just be able to pull up and get something curbside," she said "I think we will continue to offer that in some fashion (post-pandemic). What it will look like I can't say. We want to meet the needs of everyone in our community"
Curbside Plus service remains available and six libraries are now also offering use of Chromebooks in library parking lots.
The curbside service is available Monday – Thursday from 10 am to noon and 3-6 pm at all locations. Friday hours run from 10 am to noon and 2-4 pm. Sunday service is offered from 1-5 pm at the Busch Annapolis, Crofton, Discoveries, Glen Burnie, Maryland City at Russett, Odenton, Severn and Severna Park libraries.
The Brooklyn Park, Deale, Glen Burnie, Maryland City at Russet, Mountain Road and Severn libraries are now offering Chromebooks for use in library parking lots.
Since the pandemic began, the library has also offered an extensive collection of virtual programs on its Facebook page (facebook.com/aacpl) and on Zoom including live kindergarten readiness storytimes, cooking demonstrations, book clubs and numerous how to workshops focused on using library resources. Customers should visit the library’s calendar of events for a complete list of virtual programs.
Library staff continue to add more titles to the system’s extensive digital collection of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines and databases available on the library’s website. Customers are encouraged to visit AACPL’s Cloud Library collection for the quickest access to the newest
eBooks for all ages.
"We really feel like we're going to be in a much better place come March 1," Feldmann said. "There'll be alot more people vaccinated. The numbers hopefully will continue to trend down. Unfortunately we do need to continue to be patient."
“We will continue to look at the data to make decisions on library operations,” said Library CEO Skip Auld.
Source: phone interview, AACPL press release