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Library Vs Covid

Library Thrives Despite COVID By Valeria Quezada The Carlsbad Public Library is a big part of the community. For years, this has been the place parents take their kids to spend time with them, teach them how to read, and take part in community activities. The library and its hardworking employees have taken a big hit by the pandemic. The library has been closed twice for extended periods this year and has had to adjust almost all of its daily operations. They have had to add new safety procedures, disinfect, masks, and temperature taking. All the items that are returned to the library go through isolation and are quarantined. Sarah Jones, Director of the Public Library explains their procedure, “We quarantine items to make sure that if they were exposed to anything, it is safe before it goes into the hands of another patron. When we are open to the public, we are checking the temperatures of every patron that comes into the library. We are also making sure everyone has a mask. ”The Carlsbad Public Library is now open to the public at 10 people per time. The Public Library employees are working hard to keep themselves involved with the community even with the restrictions in place. So many people within the community are taking advantage of these new programs, activities, and systems. With everyone at home and limited recreational activities, it’s no surprise the library has been busier. They have seen trends of the same number of people and even higher then past years with shorter hours open and smaller capacities. The library has done many new adjustments, including free Wi-Fi, curbside book service, online programs, and overall reaching out to the community. They’ve also worked with the Carlsbad Fire Department to develop safe practices for their day-to-day operations. Safety practices are used for book check in and checkout. The

library wants to keep our community safe. They have added sneeze guards for checkout to limit this contact. Of course, contactless delivery is given at curbside and homebound delivery. The library employees want to do their part in keeping the community safe as well as offering endless programs. “Even when our doors have been closed, patrons are still able to access free Wi-Fi in our parking lot, and get help with our curbside service,” Jones says. In order to do curbside services, patrons can place requests by calling, emailing, or by accessing their online accounts. Once a staff member receives the request, that order is filled. They find the book, DVD, information request, print job, etc. The items are packaged in a to-go-bag, then the patron is notified that their order is ready to be picked up. The packages are picked up in the back parking lot off of Alameda St. Once the person is there to pick-up they call to notify the employees. An employee will the take them their order wearing a mask and gloves. The package is placed in the vehicle trunk to ensure a contactless delivery. “Patrons sometimes know exactly what they want or need, say a divorce packet or latest Patterson best seller. But sometimes they just let us find their next great read. We have tried to make the service flexible to meet the community needs,” Jones adds. The library is known for their programs for children, teens, and adults. The pandemic has not slowed that down. The library offers amazing virtual and online programs for the community. Beth Nieman, the children’s librarian offers online story and craft programs. The library has also partnered with XTO Energy to offer a “Stay at Home STEM.” Weekly STEM experiments are conducted by XTO engineers and science engineers. Here the students in are community can learn about STEM principles, such as gravity, aerodynamics, physical, and chemical reactions using their everyday household objects. Other than offering virtual programs for the kids and teens in the community, they also offer weekly lunchtime trivia for adults. The

adults can take a break from their long workday to test their trivia knowledge. These amazing programs that are quarantine-friendly make such a huge positive impact on our community, and the public library is still working on many more ideas to expand their online programs. Other than just these virtual programs, the Carlsbad Public Library is doing their best to personally reach out to the community. “We are reaching out to the community anyway we can. We are helping people by phone, online, curbside, and by mail. We are making craft kits, currently for kids, but we are working on them for teens and adults. We want to make sure all ages of our community feel connected and are getting the help they need,” Sarah explains. One of their newest programs is “Pen Pals for Seniors,” where members of the community write letters and send cards for the library to deliver to seniors in the community. Another new program is the “Genre Punch Club” of the month. If patrons read or listen to ten books of the genre of the month they win a prize. They are also working on adding more new programs. Such as stories by phone where people can call in and listen to stories. “We hope to have this ready soon. We think they would be great for bedtime stories, and classic reads for adults,” adds Jones. As well as incorporating photography contests for the community to participate in. “We are always looking for new programs and ways to reach patrons. We are here to find information for the community and build partnerships,” Sarah says. This pandemic has pushed the Carlsbad Public Library to branch-out and adapt, something they’ve successfully accomplished to do. They are offering more online options than they ever have. It has even pushed them to create an entire studio solely based for recording and live online programs. They are even working on creating Wi-Fi hotspots for students who need to have access to internet, something they had actually been working on before the pandemic hit. Sarah says, “Everything that has happened this year has shown how important access is and how

so many patrons need our help!” They are working on this through a grant from the New Mexico Humanities Council CARES Act to add three Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots for patrons to checkout. Hopefully these will be up and running soon for checkout. All these new programs and adjustments will be incorporated into the Carlsbad Public Library’s daily operations post-pandemic. The Carlsbad Public Library has excelled in keeping this treasure alive for the community during a difficult time. Everyone in the community should take advantage of these amazing programs and systems. Especially now, where everyone has extra downtime. Quezada is a senior with the Early College High School. She is also an intern for Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway.

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