Public Libraries Closed But Offered Pickup Times for Books

Young woman with a face mask is grabbing a stack of books from library
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Young woman with a face mask is grabbing a stack of books from library

Public libraries were not immune to the problems of the pandemic. Forced to close or reduce visitations throughout the year, they faced immense pressure to prioritize the health and safety of their staff and patrons, while still maintaining services. Despite these challenges, many libraries exhibited remarkable ingenuity. They developed new programs and services quickly, adapted to shifting circumstances dynamically, and partnered with community organizations to enhance access to their resources, whether in person or virtually.

Most public libraries in the United States made changes to their policies, including extending online renewals so their patrons wouldn’t have to risk exposures to return books or extend checkout periods during surges in cases. Leaders redirected their budgets quickly, expanding online services for e-books, and streaming media, rather than physical media. They also had to cancel a lot of their in-person learning and educational offerings due to restrictions, but pivoted to adding virtual learning classes online.

Some libraries that had access to 3D printers used their resources to print face shields for local regional hospitals that needed additional personal protective equipment.

Public libraries provide the only means of free access to computers and the internet for over 20 million individuals without home broadband. In a single year, public libraries host almost 258 million computer sessions. However, the closure of library buildings due to the pandemic resulted in many not having access. During lockdowns, many libraries left their public Wi-Fi accessible despite the library building being closed. Many more increased their signals or offered hotspot hardware as an item that could be checked out.

Some libraries had pickup times available. Their patrons could checkout their books and other media on the website, and then stop by the library. While nobody was allowed in during the lockdowns, staff would have the materials ready to be picked up, outside, at certain scheduled times.

Our public library system is one of the greatest treasures our society has, and during the pandemic, they stepped up as much as any other entity to help the public.

"This book will make you laugh and feel ALL the feelings."

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"One of the most delightful reads of this year! I highly recommend."

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"A great coffee table book. Easy to pick up read."

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"Great coffee table conversation starter."

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"Funny and fun to read. What a fun way to put the pandemic in perspective."

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Picture of author Anthony Faust

About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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