The pandemic is changing, but not slowing down, the Jervis service
The year 2020 started as usual with strong ticket sales for community events, snowshoe borrowing to make peace with the winter weather, book talks, storytelling hours and book and book loans. DVD – all the pillars of the activities of the Jervis public library.
In March, that changed dramatically in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jervis executive director Lisa A. Matte said.
March 14 was the last fully operational day of the library in 2020. The following week, staff began serving the community from their living room, home office and kitchen, answering the library phone at home, communicating with the public via email and Facebook, and providing story hours and programming for kids, teens and adults on Facebook and Discord, which also served as Jervis’ new virtual office.
“What we thought was a detour of a few weeks turned into three months as we urged elected officials to provide authoritative reopening advice, which we ultimately found locally,” said Matte.
Just as the staff had finally established what was almost a routine with new software, new modes of communication, and an understanding that things would not be the same for a while, the staff returned to the office in stages, starting the curbside pickup to wake up the office service, which has been silent for three months.
“We added in-person service every few weeks until we hit a new balance, which we have now maintained since August 5, when appointment library browsing was added,” Matte said. . “While it wasn’t ideal, it meant that even in an area designated yellow or orange, we didn’t have to make any changes to operations.”
Without the staff, none of the services would have been possible while the building was inaccessible, nor would it be possible now that the library offers limited services, the executive director added.
“There is not enough time and there are not enough words to fully attribute the successful library revolution in on-premise, virtual and remote services in a week and then back,” he said. she declared. “The staff let go of everything they trusted and jumped into the depths. They relied on their own personal turmoil to deepen the empathy with which they helped the public, going beyond established security protocols. We patiently responded to calls, emails and Facebook posts regarding income tax forms, DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) concerns, and COVID because we had (and still have) the same questions.
Matte said: “We are now in the throes of yet another round of questions about a new year of income taxes, COVID vaccines and other government services. We don’t just serve the community. We are active members of the community we serve. And we are not just a building. While at Jervis we have been saying it for years, the change of services since March 2020 proves it, day after day, as we continue to manage together.
Matte said the library was grateful for the support of the Board of Trustees; city, county and school district taxpayers; the SBA and local banks administering PPP loans; and the many individuals, businesses and foundations who have provided strong financial support to the library in its weakened financial situation. Without the money to pay employees and buy resources, the quality of the staff is irrelevant, the executive director said.
“Numbers are usually the foundation of this report. Please note that these numbers reflect a library building that was closed for three months and then opened with significant limitations for 6.5 months, ”she said.
In 2020, there were over 35,000 physical visits to Jervis, approximately 23,000 virtual visits to the library website and 20,000 interactions on the library Facebook page.
Interactions on Facebook included viewing one of the hundreds of hours of storytelling, science experiments and other videos posted by almost everyone on Jervis staff, with help from the Rome Community Theater offering nine storytelling hours on Saturdays in the fall. There were almost 4,000 curbside pick-up appointments, 700 computer appointments, 450 fax / photocopy appointments, and 1,200 in-person appointments to browse the library stacks.
This led customers to borrow 128,000 items. Of these borrowed items, 25% were digital documents using the library’s Libby and RB Digital apps. Since the adoption of digital materials, the circulation of digital materials represents 10% of the circulation each year.
Then 2020 saw a 43% increase in digital traffic.
“One positive aspect was that people stayed at home, they found out that the library had digital books, audiobooks and magazines to borrow,” Matte said. “Jervis staff supported new users via phone, email and Facebook, and worked with the Mid-York Library System to add thousands of digital titles to meet growing demand with 464 new library cards issued. . “
Staff answered more than 24,000 questions and created new programs for remote and curbside pickup users. UnPlug and Play reconnected with 107 people attending in 2020. The Teen Swag Boxes were created to engage teens between virtual library visits using the Discord server, an online space to interact.
The children’s librarian, part-time librarians and interns have created seven different take-out craft kits for kids, a service that remains popular in 2021.
Perhaps most important was the celebration of the library’s 125th anniversary with five virtual programs coordinated by our local history librarian (now retired), with the help of a summer intern to create a virtual tour of the Jervis house, ”said Matte.
But despite all the unforeseen challenges, Matte said she was proud that the library was able to maintain its support for the community throughout 2020.
“These numbers are not the numbers of a library that has been closed. These are the numbers of a library that shifted quickly and excelled under pressure while being physically careful, but also being cautious in devising a new operating plan in a week, ”he said. she declared. “I know I speak for everyone when I say that we can’t wait to get back to normal access and apply the lessons this experience has taught us to create an even more responsive public library for everyone. “