At this point, the Library will maintain its current status, i.e., providing all essential library services to patrons, with the exception of in-person browsing, in-library computer use, and the scheduling of meeting/gathering space. The contactless holds service continues to be very successful, and patrons can schedule their holds pickup day online. Staff members continue to provide technology training and one-on-one tech help, answer research and reference questions, order library books and materials, and plan and present numerous virtual online programs for patrons of all ages.
We understand that this building closure can be frustrating and hard on people who love to visit the library in person. The Library Trustees and Director are as anxious as everyone else to reopen the building as soon as possible, but we must follow the guidelines of the State and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and coordinate with the Hingham Board of Health. As you may know, the public health data recently released by the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) indicates that the Town’s designation remains “yellow”, signifying a “medium risk” of COVID spread in the community. There were 131 new cases in Hingham in the two weeks prior to February 16th, still higher than state averages. In addition, several nearby towns have a designation of “red”, signifying “high risk”, and the Library does have patrons from other towns. Current guidance directs citizens to avoid high-risk activities including indoor gatherings. Many of our patrons are over the age of 65 and more susceptible to the virus than younger people. The Trustees and Director are working with Hingham’s Executive Health Officer Susan Sarni, as well as Town Administrator Tom Mayo, to monitor public health data and receive recommendations about the timing and safety of reopening.
Guidance from the Board of Health continues to be of paramount importance in making decisions about the reopening of all Town buildings including the Library, with the goal of keeping the public, staff, and their families safe by mitigating risk to contain the spread of Covid-19. We want to avoid the possibility that we could reopen and then have to close again, as a number of libraries in our area have recently done, as the risk level rises. The Trustees and Director will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and will work toward reopening the Library when the safety of staff and patrons is certain.
We appreciate your patience and support during these challenging and unprecedented times. Stay healthy and stay safe.