Previously, we've shared a number of guest blog posts on how COVID-19 is affecting KLAS libraries and resource centers. Since then, there has been plenty of re-opening, re-closing, and re-evaluating as each state and all of their associated agencies work to find the best course of action.
We recently reached out to our original guest bloggers for an update on their situation. Read on to see how things have progressed in Washington, New Mexico, and Kansas.
Sam Lundberg, New Mexico State Library for the Blind & Print Disabled
I said in my original post that New Mexico would be able to hold at current levels, and that's basically what we've done. Books are going out and coming in, processed by two staff members who are never in the building at the same time. We're also answering the phone live thanks to call forwarding and Google Voice, providing full RA service from home. Small, random things like sending out a paper application are more difficult than they were before, but we're in a sustainable place.
The only real change we've had is that we're finally wrapping up our conversion to DoD. After 9+ months of slowly transitioning patrons one conversation at a time, we're finally bulk converting our remaining patrons. It is very exciting to finally be going fully to Scribe for book delivery, although the fate of our carousel system is now very much an open question.
Danielle Miller, Washington Talking Book & Braille Library
On June 2nd, our Governor approved a waiver request for the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library to begin circulating books and materials during Phase 1 of our “Safe Start” plan. On June 4th, we resumed circulation with four staff returning to work to join the director. We had over 40 mail bins of returned books and equipment that still needed to be checked in and thousands of patrons waiting for books. Working as a team, everything was checked in and everyone was served in record time. Circulation was operating normally, with all staff wearing PPE and following safety protocols. The director was still checking voicemail daily and responding to patrons, and most staff were still working remotely.
When our county moved into Phase 2, on June 29th, more staff were able to return to the library. We were able to start answering the phones and resume regular readers’ advisory. Some staff continue to work from home and the library is still closed to the public and to volunteers. We are busy answering phones, circulating books, continuing work in our Audio and Braille Departments, and all staff at the library are helping with book inspection daily. We are looking forward to the time we can have all of our staff together and slowly bring our volunteers back. Ensuring everyone’s safety is the highest priority, and we want to do what we can to avoid another disruption in circulation.
Michael Lang, State Library of Kansas, Talking Books Service
Present: Still Doing the Best that We Can
We are still working with the model we implemented in April.
The circulation staff and I are working on site. We are allowing returned books and machines to sit untouched for a minimum of three full days in our library before handled by staff. The good news is that mail is again being delivered and picked up at our building by the USPS. No more daily runs to the post office in my mother-in-law’s truck.
RA staff are still working remotely; answering phone calls, emails, updating catalog records, editing audio, creating book lists, and looking for online continuing education opportunities. Our VOIP phones and splashtop connections are saving us from the early frustrations we were having. If there is something they need to do onsite, they can schedule a time with me to come in to work. They will return onsite fulltime when the following criteria have been met:
- The ESU Memorial Union is open
- Lyon County enters the phase out stage of Gov. Kelly’s Ad Astra recovery plan
- The State of Kansas enters the phase out stage of Gov. Kelly’s Ad Astra recovery plan
Our volunteer recording program is on hold until further notice. Circulation staff are recording our local magazines to keep them as current as possible.
Cases are currently trending upward in Kansas. On July 15, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced that public schools will not reopen until after Labor Day.
Emporia State University buildings are scheduled to reopen to the public on August 3rd, masks will be required for everyone on campus. Students will return beginning August 12th. They’ve shut off the water fountains in our building.
I feel like we’re managing to serve our patrons pretty well. The turnaround time is a little slower for books, but increasing cutoff limits for underserved patrons keeps most people in books. Most patrons have been very understanding. I think our biggest loss will be outreach. All outreach events for the year are cancelled. Trying to find new avenues to reach prospective patrons is difficult. If you’ve got any advice, we’d love the help.