3-16-20 COVID19

Artist Deb Ayers of Madison (left) chats with Conway Public Library worker Annie Wehrli on March 16, when the library was only partially closed. For a few weeks in March, local libraries,

including Jackson, North Conway and Conway, were providing lobby and curbside service to patrons. After Gov. Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order No. 17 on Thursday, which ordered non-essential businesses to close, the libraries have shut down to borrowers until early May. However, patrons have other options, including checking out digital books on the libraries’ websites, the New Hampshire State Librarian says. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONWAY — Local public libraries, which have shown creativity in adjusting to the ever-changing coronavirus protocols, now have closed their doors until the crisis is over.

North Conway Public Library, Director Andrea Masters said last week that the library lobby (foyer), accessible from Main Street, would be a pickup location for reserved library materials. But she announced Thursday that due to the governor’s emergency order, the lobby pickup service would end as of today (Saturday).

Lichen Rancourt, director of the Jackson Public Library, sent the following email to residents on Thursday: “Show is over, friends. In order to comply with Gov. Sununu’s Stay-At-Home order issued today, we will discontinue material pick-ups and provide remote services only.

“I am in tears saying goodbye to the beloved library today,” she said. “Take good care, all my friends, I will look forward to seeing you as soon as possible. In the meantime, though, please stay tuned as we work on how to keep the magic alive from afar. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Love your community!”

In an online “Guide to Services,” the Jackson library said: “During the Stay-At-Home order, our building and the collection within are not available to borrow. Overdrive, our online downloadable collection, is large and contains eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines that can be read from your device or computer. All items checked out in 2020 have had their due dates extended to May 7th. They will be extended again, if necessary.”

Conway Public Library Director David Smolen left the following message on the Conway Public Library’s phone line: “The library is closed effective immediately due to the governor’s ‘stay-at-home’ order. The library still offers online resources such as Overdrive and downloadable books, and we’ll be offering more stuff in the future. For now, we are closed, and we hope to see you on May 4.”

He emailed the Sun on Friday: “Door front service is now suspended, but the staff continues to work from home. The library will be promoting a wider range of online resources and services in the coming days. Stay tuned for details. Any questions about the library can be sent to me at dsmolen@conwaypubliclibrary.org. Phone messages will be checked on a daily basis and will be returned.”

From Concord, State Librarian Michael York told the Sun on Friday: “We halted the interlibrary loan system because it puts our employees in jeopardy. We are now in the process of having all of our employees work at home. The library building closed to the public March 16.”

But he said, “We run a lot of our services electronically. The Downloadable Book Consortium is run by the State Library. If you go to NHewLink, you have access to full text databases.”

York advised the public to go to the state library website (nh.gov/nhsl/) to not only find out more about library services but also information pertaining to the current pandemic.

York said he was aware that many libraries across the state have been trying to offer curbside and lobby service. “I sent out a message about that. I said I didn’t think that was a good idea.”

For library patrons who can no longer check out books, DVDs and audiobooks, York said, “They should go to the website of their public library. There are many electronic resources.”

Across the state border, the Fryeburg Public Library is also closed. Librarian Jenny Spofford said Friday, “Our earliest reopen date is April 8.”

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