Lewisboro library contactless pickup

Anu Chaturvedi and Kathy Igelias setting up the Lewisboro Library’s contactless outdoor pickup area last month, which has proven popular with patrons.

The date for reopening Lewisboro Library has been pushed back again. Library officials said they will re-evaluate conditions next week to determine if the staff and facility are ready for welcoming patrons inside.

Since first announcing reopening plans in late May, the Lewisboro Library has postponed the opening date for residents to enter the building three times due to the continuing demands of operating under the restricted conditions.

During discussions on the library’s initial reopening plans during a board meeting May 29, Lewisboro Library Director Cynthia Rubino projected the library would enter its third phase of reopening beginning June 29 or July 6, when it would begin admitting a limited number of people inside the building. Shortly after, the reopening date was pushed to July 8.

During the Library Board of Trustees meeting July 8, Ms. Rubino said the board decided to postpone the reopening and projected a new date of July 22. Then on Tuesday, the library made the decision to postpone reopening again.

Ms. Rubino cited two main reasons. First, curbside pickup has become extremely popular, and second, handling the high volume of interlibrary loans has continued to overwhelm the staff.

“We are struggling to keep up with the demand,” Ms. Rubino said. “We feel that we would not be able to handle both in-person library visits and fulfill holds.” As for setting a new possible opening date, she added, “We will reevaluate next week.” 

She also said, “We feel strongly that waiting for the backlog to lessen over the next week will help us to properly deal with the public coming into the building.”

In addition, Ms. Rubino said reopening signage was still needed, and that the staff continued to rearrange furniture to ensure social distancing while patrons are in the building.

In addition to the library’s ongoing deliberations on reopening, there have been several detailed discussions regarding the annual library fair, which is usually held in September. During a June 10 board of trustees meeting, Board President Nancy Euchner said an in-person event would not be possible. In recent weeks, the library has received an increasing number of inquiries about when it would begin accepting drop offs of items for the fair’s various sale events, as the library has in past years. On July 10, the library officially announced that the 2020 library fair was cancelled.

Regarding the reopening timetable, Ms. Rubino said at the July 8 meeting that she and other library staff were going to be away for a portion of that week, noting that full-time staff was needed to manage the opening. In addition, Ms. Rubino said more time was needed to complete preparations, which added to an already heavy workload for library staff.

She also said the staff’s workload greatly increased after the Westchester Library System Interlibrary Loan Services resumed July 1. All holds that were frozen in the queue since March were released, and staff needed to fill all of the holds that accumulated over the four-month period. Ms. Rubino said staff have been flooded with holds from interlibrary loans and they currently must pull 100 to 200 items each day. In addition, the library has been receiving a backlog of 12 to 20 bins of materials from other libraries that must be quarantined for three days before they can be sorted.

Ms. Rubino said the library plans to reopen under the same guidelines as previously presented. All the plexiglass and glass shields at the circulation desk have been installed. She said the library plans on permitting 10 or so patrons at a time in the main section of the library, adding that the children’s room will remain closed.

Among other adjustments to operations, staff will allow limited access to the computers with a one-hour time limit; there will be only one entrance open to the building on the Town House side of the library; and the bathrooms will be closed except in emergencies. “We simply do not have the ability to guarantee the bathrooms will be cleaned or sanitized,” Ms. Rubino said.

As outlined in the previous reopening plans, staff will be required to complete daily health questionnaires and temperature checks upon entering the building. In addition, Ms. Rubino said the staff is considering keeping a voluntary log by the door for patrons to sign in for the purposes of contact tracing.

Ms. Rubino said one change to the reopening plan under consideration is to require appointments for visits. The Katonah Village Library has reopened by appointment only.

Even when the library building is finally accessible, Ms. Rubino stressed that curbside pickup will still be available to residents who prefer to not enter the building for any reason.

Jessica Leibman is a staff reporter at The Record-Review where she covers the Town of Lewisboro the Katonah-Lewisboro School District.

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