For the first time in weeks, supervising librarian Jimi Rider walked into the New Hanover County Library’s downtown branch, the Wilmington StarNews reports.
“I just kind of thought to myself how much I’ve missed this place,” Rider said.
Libraries in Wilmington and across the state are planning how they will respond to guests once their buildings are reopened to the public. In the meantime, staff have been able to clean and paint the libraries, ensuring they will be ready to host patrons once again.
The time in quarantine has given librarians and historians a challenge: How do they continue their work of educating the public when the buildings housing their books and historic artifacts are closed?
“It’s a challenge, but it is something where we’ve had to really focus on using so many of the online resources we already had,” Rider told the paper. “In that way, we’ve been able to adapt pretty well.”
Since readers are no longer able to physically sift through bookshelves, many have taken to the online databases to find new reads. And e-book rentals have seen a spike in usage as well. Additionally, the library has a partnership with Ancestry that was only available for access inside the library. Now, temporary access has been given to members to use it remotely. It’s the most use they’ve seen in five years, at least.
The remote process has also spurred library staff to interact with patrons in a new way, like reopening a chat feature so people can communicate with staff directly, or creating an online calendar of events people can enjoy from their computers.
Residents can even help with projects. The North Carolina Room launched a community-sourced project, the StarNews reports, that asks for locals to help transcribe some 900 Civil War-era letters for archival.
Still, it’s not the same as having guests in person.
“We terribly miss the one-on-one interaction with patrons,” Rider said. “And I know a lot of our patrons are just dying to come in and get a good book in their hands.”
Read the full story from the Wilmington StarNews here.