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West Hartford Public Libraries Phase Back into Operation

West Hartford Library, Noah Webster Branch. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Public Libraries continue to implement safety precautions for both staff and residents as they phase back into operation.

By Melanie Grados

As a result of the rapid spread of COVID-19 beginning in early March, West Hartford Public Libraries closed their doors to the public.

Staff were encouraged to work from home but continued to dedicate their time to the well-being of town residents by answering phones and taking questions from the public. The main library has continued to serve as the town’s communication’s center throughout the pandemic.

During this adjustment period, West Hartford’s libraries began expanding their electronic book collection and implemented an online library card application which resulted in over 500 new cards since March.

With the help of local residents, library staff began to provide virtual programming and facilitate discussion groups for both adults and children via Facebook Live or Zoom.

“We are most grateful to the enthusiasm of our patrons and the people who belong to these groups because they really kept it going,” said Martha Church, Library Director.

All are welcome to participate, and programs can be found in the library weekly newsletter or on the library website.

Participants are asked to register beforehand for the virtual programming in order to receive the appropriate program link.

Beginning in June, libraries began a curbside pick-up option at all three West Hartford locations.

Curbside pick-up is available outside West Hartford’s libraries. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Residents can reserve books online or via phone call. Once their request is processed residents will receive an email to make an appointment for pick-up.

As the state begins to reopen, West Hartford Public Libraries hopes to invite the public back by appointment only to utilize library resources such as computers, printers, and to browse the collections.

The library is working in compliance with the town on fulfilling all state-mandated guidelines for public libraries. This includes obtaining plexiglass for the service desk, requiring masks, limiting the amount of time and residents in the building, and other necessary safety precautions.

“We wish it was more, we wish it was sooner, we wish it was all over like everyone else, but we are happy to have played the role we are playing,” Church said.

West Hartford Public Libraries hopes to implement this plan come the beginning of August, but the uncertainty of the pandemic continues to serve as a hindrance.

The library staff is committed to providing as many resources to the public as possible while ensuring the safety of the staff and residents.

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Melanie Grados

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