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Area libraries ready if remote learning returns

Computers inside the Merriweather Library in Buffalo being used by a woman, female student and man.
Eileen Buckley
The computers and WiFi at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system are ready for remote learning again.

If the trigger is pulled to shut down Buffalo Public Schools because of the rising COVID-19 totals, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library said its computer rooms will be ready for kids to do their schoolwork.

When city schools were closed last year, the library system's computers were essential to continuous learning because so many students didn't have web access at home. Even when the libraries were closed, their WiFi system was left in operation, allowing that essential use.

When the libraries reopened, the computer rooms were there again, even with mask rules and alternate computers blocked because of social distancing rules. And Dorinda Darden, assistant deputy director of public services for the library system, said the computer rooms and WiFi are ready again.

"They can access it during library hours inside the building and also 24/7 outside the building as well," Darden said. "If we need to extend hours, that's something we certainly can look at and make sure we have enough staff that can cover those hours."

Darden said most libraries have at least 20 computers and the social distancing rules are gone, although the mask rules are still there. The library system also has nine libraries that are open on Sunday.

"We have the Audubon Library in Amherst, the Central Library downtown, the Frank E. Merriweather Library (in Buffalo), Hamburg Public Library, the Julia Boyer Reinstein Library in Cheektowaga, the Kenmore Branch, the Lancaster Library, North Collins Public Library and Orchard Park Public Library," Darden said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.