By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Just a few weeks ago, the Dover Town Library (DTL) closed down for two weeks following a positive COVID-19 case among staff. A coronavirus case is enough to derail almost everything these days, but it didn’t stop staff from continuing to offer great service.
During the closure, the staff of DTL was forced to put a pause on services like curbside pick-up and drop-off. However, the show went on for various virtual programs and activities. “Not a single event was canceled during the shutdown. Although we had to suspend curbside service for two weeks, we focused on promoting our online resources and digital collections, offering up recommendations for e-materials that could be borrowed on Hoopla or Libby so our patrons wouldn’t have to go without something to watch or read,” explained Young Adult Librarian Angela Howes. While they couldn’t be available in person, the staff did try their best to be there for patrons from home. “We did our best to stay engaged with the community, other library professionals, and each other while isolating from home. Although it was difficult to be out of the building, our primary concern was the well-being of our patrons, coworkers, and families," said Howes.
Patrons had the due dates of their borrowed materials extended until the day the library expected to reopen. All curbside pick-up appointments were rescheduled for a later date. “Curbside is up and running, and over the past few days, we’ve seen a steady increase in people signing up for pick-up appointments. Because we shut down so soon after the holidays, we had a backload of returned items to check-in, as well as over 20 bins of materials to process from delivery. Everyone on staff has been working tirelessly to get caught up,” explained Howes.
As a way to prevent any additional cases from spreading amongst library staff, the DTL put a few new safety measures in place. Staff areas have been reorganized to spread staff throughout the space, and have fewer people in the back office.
In addition to some of the popular E-services like Libby and Hoopla, the library will also be offering a brand-new recommendation service. “Now that we’re back, we have reopened curbside, and plan to resume our grab-and-go activity bags for all ages beginning next week. In addition, the library is launching a new recommendation service called Picked4You, which encourages patrons to email or call the library, give us a short summary of their interests, and we will then select four titles that we think they’ll enjoy. We want the public to know that we are here for them, and happy to help them discover their new favorite book/movie/show!" Howes observed.
With the library back to business as usual, staff can now focus on their upcoming 2021 programs. This year will include the return of some popular favorites, such as virtual tutoring and book buddies programs for teens and younger students. During February break, students will be able to join in a virtual murder mystery party. In addition, patrons will be able to join pastel artist Gregory Maicheck for a pastel painting workshop, with all supplies included. March will bring the second annual Book Bowl reading competition.
An exciting new program coming to the library is "Bake for Good," a collaboration with King Arthur Baking Company. Families who sign up will receive a bread-making kit and an instructional video to teach them how to make bread from home. There's a twist: each kit comes with supplies to make two loaves: one to keep and one to share with someone as an act of kindness. "When Nancy, our children’s librarian, first heard about this program, she saw it as a great way for families to create together, and spread some kindness in their community," said Howes.
No one knows what 2021 will bring, but it seems the staff at DTL can handle whatever life throws at them. With a catalog of COVID-19-proof activities and a variety of fun and educational ongoing programs, there is nothing that can stop this Star Library from being better than ever.