Over the last few months, new things are happening in the R. H. Johnson library.
There have been many small and big changes and we have had to be flexible as we change our usual practices. The staff and volunteers are amazing as they patiently work with the changes and learn new ways of working in the library. The community is very understanding of our changes and supporting and following the new rules. It has been an interesting time trying to find new ways to safely engage with our members. We are looking for ways to do things virtually but still support those that are not as interested in virtual options.
While the R. H. Johnson Library, 13801 W. Meeker Blvd., was closed during the “stay-at-home” order, not all services had to stop. We found many people were able to access the digital resources that are available. While eBooks might not be the first choice for some of our readers, we had many people try out the eBooks. Compared to the number of patrons who accessed the eBooks last year we had an increase of 65% more people access our online eBook and audiobooks by July of this year. Some readers commented on how much they did like accessing the eBooks and plan to continue.
There are many missing the social opportunities the library provided, but we are glad to have some of our volunteers back helping the library. During the times we were closed we were not able to have our volunteers help. The library volunteers give thousands of hours of service each year and many look forward to working in the library and were happy to be able to come back.
Many of our members were disappointed that our large 43,000-piece puzzle was not put up this summer and had to be postponed until next year, but regular puzzles are being checked out. We have less people in the library but almost as many puzzles going out as the month before the closure.
We were able to have our summer reading club. Readers can turn in the list of books read each week online or in person and emails are sent out each week with recommendations from other members in the Summer Reading Club.
The books, puzzles, eBooks and magazines are all purchased by funds donated by the Friends of the R. H. Johnson Library. Since we have had to cancel two of the Friends of the Library book sales, we expanded the Book-tique within the library to sell $1 paperback books and DVDs and Blu-ray that normally are only sold during the book sales.
Keeping staff, volunteers and patrons safe is our No. 1 priority. This led to many changes in the library. We are not allowing guests currently. We are encouraging shorter visits and not having members staying to read, do puzzles and have training sessions as we have in the past. We expanded the option for putting holds for books that are on the shelf and offering curbside pick up for those not comfortable coming into the library. The book drop is open for returning items. Most of our members prefer to come into the library to browse for what they want, but we want to accommodate those that need limited contact with others.
The Library started a new collection of board games available for checkout from the generous donations from our community. We hope to offer items that our members can play, watch or read while staying safe in their homes.
The library appreciates all the community support we have received as we find ways to provide services and keep our social distance.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Skousen is R.H. Johnson Library director.