Massena library, despite pandemic and low funding, wants to hear from public on their wants, needs
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
MASSENA – Even though they are operating on a smaller budget, the Massena Public Library is trying to do what they can to meet the community’s biggest needs. They’re also continuing services to the public with major adaptations for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Library Director Elaine Dunne said she hopes everyone, including people who don’t use the library, will take the survey.They want to learn what people “can’t do without, what they are interested in, and we’ll make our decisions according to that.” For those who don’t use the library, Dunne said they want to know what could make them start.
“We’d like to know why, if there are things we can do to make them become library users,” she said. “Library users and people who don’t use the library, please fill it in.”
All of the information gleaned from the survey will help them write up a three-year plan. People can take the survey through the library’s website, their Facebook page or in a paper format. They put the written survey in bags of books that are picked up curbside.
Earlier in 2020, the library had requested voter approval to collect their own taxes through the school district, rather than receiving an allotment of property taxes determined by the Town Council. That failed.
“We’re operating on a smaller budget. Some services and collections (of materials) will be affected,” Dunne said. “Three part-time employees are no longer working with us since their hours were cut so dramatically.”
As a result, they’re changing their hours to being open evenings on one night per week, and Saturdays will be half days.
Because of the pandemic, “our circulation “is not what it was at this time last year,” which she attributes to no in-house programming.
“Particularly in the children’s area, materials aren’t going out the way they used to,” she said. “Parents are trying the best they can.”
Even though their funding is less than ideal, Dunne said they’re offering services to all ages, from kids through adults.
“We’re really trying to accommodate our patrons recognizing all the services they used to count on,” she said.
Dunne said their children’s librarian, Veronica Tatro, is “doing a really great job of providing online storytime” for kids. They have schedules posted online and on their website.
“Anyone can join us. She does a really nice job of it,” Dunne said. “It’s been very good, it really has. Many pre-schoolers, this is the one chance to be with other children in a weekly organized program. They really miss the in-person time to play and be together. It’s been a big loss for young children and families.”
In March, they’re going to be starting a “dial-a-story” for kids where families can set up one-on-one sessions with Tatro.
“Basically, they’ll do a book together, they’ll sing together, just have a personalized program,” and it will be free, the library director said.
Over the summer, they’re trying to plan face-to-face programs outside, that could include storytimes and outdoor children’s programming.
Books, DVDs, Printing
One service still available, even though the building is closed, is printing.
“Go ahead, send it to the library email, we’ll print it for them, meet them at the door, and it’s a quarter a page,” she said. That email address is [email protected]
For adults (and everyone else), they offer curbside book loans. People can contact the library online or by phone and they’ll offer readers suggestions they may enjoy. They can choose from books in the Massena library, or through the interlibrary loan program.
“Many patrons just go online and they can reserve books and DVDs themselves,” Dunne said. The library will call people when their package is ready, and patrons call back when they’re in the library parking lot and it’s brought outside to them in a bag.
“We’re very lenient. Any overdue fees are waved during the pandemic,” Dunne said.
Once things get to a point where they can open doors to the public, they’ll probably stick with the curbside option due to popular demand.
The library also offers a book club for adults with discussion meetings held online through Zoom, which is free to sign up for and use.
She said anyone who wants to join and check out the library webpage.
“We’re always meeting new people,” she said. The club’s latest selection is “The Overstory” by Richard Powers.
“We hope for new programs next month,” Dunne said.
The library’s website is https://www.massenapubliclibrary.org, or search for Massena Public Library on Facebook. Their phone number is 315-769-9914.
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