The Library Problem


Mind you, I have my own books, and I don’t go to the public library often.   But I wish I had made it to a university library before the Covid-19 outbreak. There are some books I NEED which are too expensive to buy.  Occasionally I check the university library websites to see if they are open.  Still closed.  They’re not CRAZY.

Some people complain that they can’t get their books on reserve.   I empathize.  There the books are, in a building a mile or two away, and they can’t pick them up.  We cannot even return books here,  because apparently the books have to be quarantined.  

The governor has declared libraries can reopen, but they’re not doing it here–yet.  I read an essay in Book Riot about the frustrations of Chicago librarians, who have been ordered to return to work.  According to the writer of the article, the planning is pretty hazy.  Employees will not be given protective gear and have been told that patrons will automatically practice social distancing.   In Chicago???!!! 

Speaking of which, are your social distancing standards rigorous?.  Six feet?  That’s for amateurs.  I like a good ten, twelve feet distance. First, I was a crazy person hopping into the street.  Then everybody was doing it! I was a role model.  Back to crazy person now that the state has reopened, I suppose.

If only things were normal this Memorial Day weekend, we would go to a park, have a picnic, take a walk…but there are huge crowds.  

It’s one big Jane Austen novel these days.  Take a walk, take another walk, take another walk–and if only we could go to Bath, like Anne in Persuasion.

11 thoughts on “The Library Problem”

  1. There have been some reports here that when bookshops open they will ask customers to place any books they have touched on a trolley so that they can be taken away and put in quarantine for three days. If the same thing happens in libraries I can’t see how we are ever going to be able to just browse again. The only way I can see it working is if we reserve books and they sit in quarantine for three days before we then go and collect them and then when we bring them back they sit in quarantine again for another three days before anybody sends them onto another reader or back to their original library. Where of course they have to sit in quarantine for another three days and so on and so on and so on. And this is before we even begin to talk about social distancing!

    1. What a nightmare! I hadn’t thought about bookstores in the same light as libraries. Books in quarantine ! Browsing is such a big part of both experiences. We all need PPE.

  2. Ithe same here I the UK, Kat. I have access to a cliff footpath across the road from me, and a garden. So Hubby gets food once a week from the local shop, and every fortnight from the supermarket. Fortunately, I have thousands of history, fiction and biographies. Just as well because many libraries we closed as a result of government cuts,and all are shut for the foreseeable future as a result of the virus. Here to the government is saying go back to work, if you can’t work from home. But with many deaths each day, employees and employers are reluctant. The government wants schools to start in early July, but the schools don’t have room for social distancing, have 30 to a classroom and not enough teachers to split the classes. Parents don’t want it, the schools seeing ready, and it isn’t safe. 5 year olds are the youngest and amongst the first to be sent back. Can you imagine trying to keep 5 year olds apart from friends they haven’t sèn for 10 weeks? There are additional problems with little ones with autism etc. Yet, the government t sing listening.

    1. Thank God for our books and gardens! If you can believe it, even the bars are open here now at 50% capacity, though who is calculating the 50% I can’t say. But then again, I don’t know how many people are actually going to bars. It does seem way too soon for opening schools, universities, libraries–and bars!

  3. I hear you about the expensive books! I’ve been forced to shell out for a number of ridiculously overpriced academic books these past few weeks. Ouch!

  4. Although a heavy user *clears throat* of library services, I am wishing that I hadn’t had 16 items en route before the shut-down struck (mostly books, a couple of films). Technically our system has been given the go-ahead, but they are still sorting out how to re-open safely, and there are more than one million items that need to be returned which is going to be quite another problem to solve. I know I’ll have to pick up my holds because I had requested them, but I’d just as well not be bringing these items into the house, as our quarantine station is quite hectic enough with a weekly shop and occasional veggie delivery.

    1. It IS a problem. Some are offering curbside service, and I hope they have a procedure in place to handle the books. Disposable gloves each time they pick up a book? They probably have some kind of disinfectant especially for books. Am I too hopeful here?!

      1. There have been treatments, for instance, for materials that may have come into contact with bedb*gs, a common problem in big city library systems, but who wants to be handling those (albeit well-intentioned) chemicals either. Let alone the staff who must handle many more than just one patron’s materials. Some of the staff at my branch have been using gloves for years and I can imagine they are longing for haz-mat suits with this current situation!

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