By Pamela West-Finkle
Happy New Year! May this year see the end of the pandemic and the start of a new, more positive era of kindness, peace, and prosperity!
I am so grateful for our library patrons and our wonderful community. Thank you again to all of the patrons who donated to our annual appeal this year. In 2020, we received nearly $18,000 in private donations and $13,000 in grants for PPE, Operations, and for the installation and repair of our basement dehumidification system and new air conditioning unit. This has helped us to recover from a critical financial situation and we are hoping to operate as normally as possible in 2021.
The Four County Library System, however, has sustained a 23% cut in its funding from New York State, which is anticipated to continue into 2021. As a result, they have had to eliminate some positions, increase service fees to member libraries, and eliminate all Wednesday deliveries. This means that we will go back to only having a Monday delivery for interlibrary loans. During weeks when a Federal holiday falls on a Monday, however, we will have a Wednesday delivery.
The pandemic has forced many to take steps out of their comfort zones and explore new ways of educating, meeting, socializing, and connecting at a time when it’s actually against the law to be together. We have expanded our service offerings to incorporate our porch/curbside service, and we have ventured into the world of virtual programming.
For our less technologically-proficient patrons, this doesn’t mean much, but for engaging the young families in and around our community, it has been a surprising success and not altogether terrible.
In December, we were lucky enough to secure Santa for a Saturday morning Virtual Santa Visits on Zoom so that children ages 2-10 could give Santa their Christmas wish lists. Santa is very proud of all of the children this year and it was an opportunity for the children to share some of their accomplishments with him.
We will continue to find ways to serve our community the best we can despite the circumstances. We are using an abundance of caution to be able to keep the library open; however, there may be times when we have to close due to precautionary quarantine or inclement weather. Please call ahead to check if we are open. Curbside/porch service will continue over the Winter. We may have to invest in a new drop box and pickup cabinet to keep the materials safe and damage free.
Speaking of the drop box, please remember to put your items in the plastic bag in the existing box. Hold onto the bag as you place your items in so that it does not slip down into the box, and if the box is full, please put items in the cabinet next to the door rather than sitting them on top or next to the drop box.
We have discovered that at least eight new 2020 releases have gone missing from the drop box. The three patrons who those items are checked out to are traditionally very responsible with their library materials, and all three swear that the books were returned around the same period of time—late August. The older books they returned at the same time made it back into our collection. The new releases, however, did not and we suspect that they were “cherry picked” from the porch drop box—essentially stolen.
The books in question are: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings, A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky, A Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux, 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand, Lost and Found by Danielle Steel, Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams, Unbound by Stuart Woods, and the second season of Homeland on DVD. There may be more, but these are the ones we have been investigating. If they magically reappear in the drop box, no questions will be asked. It’s just unfortunate because we already had to cut our acquisitions budget this year, so losing over $200 in brand new books was disappointing.
Lastly, on the topic of donations: I get at least one call or visit per day from someone who wants to donate books. Many people have been cleaning out during the pandemic and I know it seems to be a crime to take books to the transfer station, but the reality is that we have very little storage space after our construction project and our free shelves on the porch are already pretty much full. I encourage you to get creative with recycling your used books and please understand that unless they are new best-selling releases or current children’s literature, I cannot take your books, nor am I able to take them to the transfer station for you if you drop them off on the porch. Thank you for understanding!
In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, and let me know if you have any ideas for programming or book/movie purchases for our library. An.firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-676-3333.~