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Books, glorious books now available from your local library

Eileen Buckley

For those whose books-to-be-read pile has shrunk to nothing during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is good news. The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library is reopening.

While all eight of Buffalo's libraries and computer rooms are open, other libraries in the system are handling reopening differently. Returning users can expect a COVID-inspired environment.

"We most certainly are following CDC recommendations when it comes to disinfecting and cleaning," said Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski. "All of the staff that is working on our public service desks are absolutely wiping down surfaces after every computer use. Persons are coming around and we will be disinfecting keyboards and other surfaces. So we have a plan in place to make sure that we maintain a healthy and safe environment."

She said a visit to the library will require a face mask. Computer rooms only have every other unit turned on and returned books will be quarantined for three days before going back on the shelves, "a recommendation from industry leaders in the library world, OCLC and NEDCC." There are three months of untouched magazines being put on the shelves and Jakubowski said new books are on the way.

"Being a non-essential government agency, we did not have staff in our buildings and therefore we did not have full delivery services and, of course, some of the publishers were not delivering as well," she said. "So we are beginning to get those deliveries in. We are beginning to process that. We still have the 50% workforce reduction."

Jakubowski said system staffers are looking at how to use new and existing books to tell the stories of pandemics and race issues in this country to customers across the age spectrum. As long as books taken out before the quarantine are returned by June 29, there will not be any fines.

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.
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