It’s National Library Week … and we’re closed! What a terrible way to celebrate, but we are not alone as libraries all across Iowa and America are closed as a public gathering place. As sad as it is, it’s the right thing to do, and we want to protect our community in every way possible. When we are asked to stay home, we need to set the example, reduce the opportunities for congregating and eliminate the incentive to move about the community. We don’t want to accidently spread this ugly disease.

We have been closed to the public now since March 16 and ceased pickup service on March 31. We seem to be under similar directives that my brother in California, and nephew in New York City are under today. Too many didn’t listen or understand early enough to what social distancing truly means, and I hope that Iowans are better than that. I agree with what most have said, let’s get on the bandwagon and get this over with!

So what does that mean to the Bertha Bartlett Public Library? Most of us are working from home, but someone will be checking the answering machine, email, and book drop daily. Leave messages when you have urgent needs, and we will call you back. We have tried to post answers to frequently asked questions on our website. Check there first for information about using online materials. If you have materials checked out from the library, just keep them in a safe place until we start asking people to return items. Please don’t call to renew items or request items to check out … we just can’t do this anymore. Whoever is in the building will have no backup, and a limited amount of time to take care of the things necessary each day.

So even though the library is physically closed, we had a myriad of projects that needed done and we began work on those over the past few weeks. We have been planning for a summer reading program that may need to be quite different this year. We have been cleaning shelves, toys, books and carpets. We did computer maintenance, and trained staff members how to do in-depth computer clean-up. We have been shelf reading, re-organizing the collection and moving materials to different locations. We have identified areas in our collection that need attention, fixing materials and trying to upgrade our collection. But as we moved more and more to working from home, some of these things will have to slow down or stop until normal hours are enacted again. For the next stretch we will be taking continuing education classes, preparing reports, doing research and trying to stay as connected as we can from our homes.

We will be there for you when this is over, and know that you are all on our minds as we step into this different role. We are counting on you to be there, a strong and healthy community that knows how to take care of each other. Story City … be proud, be strong and be proactive. Let’s do this together with distance and common sense.