Guest Commentary: 2020 was a different one for library

Posted 1/18/21

The year 2020 was a different one for R. H. Johnson Library. It started with new director in December of 2019.

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Guest Commentary: 2020 was a different one for library


The year 2020 was a different one for R. H. Johnson Library. It started with new director in December of 2019.

The first two months of the year saw the usual numbers of more than 10,000 people coming to the library in the month to participate in scrabble, chess, author events, virtual reality experiences, use computers, as well as checking out materials. Due to COVID-19, the library closed March 13 completely except for online resources.

The library staff was able to conduct our summer reading program virtually over the summer. The number of people using online eBooks and audio books increased. There were about 700 unique users in February and that number increased to 1,140 users in March as new people tested out online books for the first time. We had many prefer the print format but the number of people using eBooks and audiobooks is higher than previous years, even after the library reopened.

The library started opening in phases in May. We opened May 19 for phase 1 curbside only with an 8-11 a.m. pickup time. The curbside only phase 1 had 963 holds placed during the two weeks.

The library opened for phase 2 “grab and go” June 2. Residents were encouraged to keep visits to less than 30 minutes to find material and check them out. No social events were conducted in the library. Virtual Reality was canceled and the study rooms were not available. The Data Resource Center was open for appointments at 50% capacity.

The library had to make some changes to the library processes. We quarantined the books for three days. The library stopped collecting late fines. We continued to have a curbside pickup option after we opened to phase 2 “grab and go” for any who requested it. Masks were required for everyone coming into the library.

The library moved to shorter hours of 9 a.m.-2 p.m. July 28. We returned to our regular hours 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 6.

We did start having one-on-one training for Apple devices when we found a way to show the devises on a projector so there could be six-foot distance between instructor and resident.

The library opened two study rooms Oct. 2 that were available for one hour with sanitizing between users.

The Friends of the Library had to cancel the three large Saturday book sales so we expanded the booktique section in the library and had puzzles, DVDs, music CDs and paperbacks to sell in the library that we usually save for the big quarterly sales.

Due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in Sun City West, the library moved back to phase 1 Dec. 15 with only curbside available. The Data Resource Center stayed open with one-hour appointments at 50% capacity or six computers available each hour.

Editor’s Note: Tracy Skousen is the R.H. Johnson Library director.