OPINION

Bertha Bartlett Public Library is one step closer to its regular services

Kolleen Taylor
Director, Bertha Bartlett Public Library

It’s National Library Week, a week normally full of pride for the services and programming that is offered by our local library. This year, we are celebrating a step closer to our regular services, as we extend our “temporary” hours and reduce the restrictions on the number of people in the building. We ask all our patrons to continue observing our social distancing protocols, using hand sanitizer upon entry, wearing a mask in the building and keeping six feet from other patrons and staff

During the past year, we had a small staff reduction, with retirement and life events impacting us during the pandemic. So we are working through the expansion of hours carefully. Starting this week, we will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, in addition to our normal hours on Wednesdays and Fridays when we have been open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are also extending our Saturday hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We will not be opening on Sundays either this spring or during the summer which is typical each summer season. As I looked at the reopening of the Des Moines Public Library and Ames Public Library, everyone is making steps to get back to a normal use, but the steps are small to start. As habits and usage of the library have changed much in the past year, these hours may be reviewed throughout the coming months.

We are still requiring masks and social distancing in the building, and we encourage you to follow the limits on computer time and browsing. We have distanced our computers so we have fewer computers available, so we are asking our patrons to let us know if they need more than 30 minutes during peak periods of the day.

We are also entering the 99th year of library services here in Story City, and I am beginning my 15th year as your library director. We’ve seen a lot of changes during those years, and I’m not sure anything can compare to what the Covid year has done to us. As we read about the losses this year has cost in education, we also see this reflected in the library. Habits take only 30 days to alter, and we’ve gone a full year without programming for children which impacts socialization and reading aptitudes. When we do begin to pull back into programming, we will be keeping our numbers small, and reservations will most likely be required. But we are still in the beginning stages of planning how these things will work.

We will continue to offer curbside/lobby pickup and we assure all our patrons that our assistance for computer use and other services will still be available during our open hours. We know many have shifted to downloadable and streaming services, but we hope some will find it a pleasant change to come and browse once again.

Enjoy, and celebrate this week as National Library Week honors volunteers, staff, boards and communities who support their library. For now, just know that we are at your service.