TAEYU KIM/SAGAMORE STAFF
Director of the Brookline Public Library Sara Slymon announced in a letter to the community on Thursday, Jan. 13 that all three branches of the library will be returning to a contactless pickup model starting on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
According to the letter, high staff absences due to COVID-19 are preventing the library from continuing its regular operations. In the contactless pickup model, library users reserve materials using the online catalog and pick them up once they are ready.
All branches of the library will re-open to the public on Monday, Jan. 31 due to reduced staff absences. Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brookline Public Library used the contactless pickup model and reopened its branches in-person to the public this June (before returning to the model on Jan. 18).
According to a reference librarian who identified herself as Ginger, over the past couple of weeks library staff have not been able to perform the library’s functions to the best of their ability as staff absences have reached up to 30 percent.
“While we don’t have as much staff coming in, the amount of people coming in is not slowing down,” Ginger said. “We’re not able to serve the public as best we can [compared with] when we have full staff as we usually do and hope to soon.”
Ginger said although librarians will not be able to interact with patrons inside, she is glad that they will continue to help provide library materials. She said she recommends library patrons to use all of the library’s resources on its website while they do not have in-person access.
“As a Reference Librarian, I enjoy interacting with people in a library setting. Contactless pickup is just not going to be the same, but I’m still excited to continue to serve the community,” Ginger said.
Library patron Kiamin Kiani said he visited the library often as it provided a safe space where he has access to a comprehensive computer to do his work on (which he currently does not have at home).
“Right now, I use the library to go on the computer at a place which is pretty comfortable and relaxing,” Kiani said.
Kiani said he had not learned about the library’s closure and was surprised to hear of its shift to the contactless pickup model. According to Kiani, the library remaining open is essential for a town like Brookline.
“Because we live in an urban environment, I think you need the library as a place with computers. I wish there was a different solution than closing the library,” Kiani said.
Kiani said he is concerned about how this closure will impact the many patrons who visit the library on a regular basis.
“It’s unfortunate that the library is closing to the public as it’s a great resource for everyone, whether it’s for reading, getting online or just having a place to study,” Kiani said.
This article was edited due to changing information 1:00 p.m., 1/26/2022.