Trustees Hear Plans for Reopening Library

Although it seems as if everyone is awaiting Governor Baker’s guidance on when to begin reopening the Town, the Director and staff of the Bedford Free Public Library have a draft plan firmly in hand when the “go” signal arrives.

Director Richard Callaghan outlined the draft of a reopening plan at the Library Trustees’ meeting on May 12.  No date is attached to the plan but hopes are that June might see the resumption of activities on a carefully limited basis.

Callaghan and staff have worked through a number of scenarios, all with the goal of ensuring a safe return to services that will be protective of both employees and Library patrons. He emphasized the importance of coordinating the opening of the Bedford Library with our near neighbors-Concord, Lexington, and Lincoln-so that no one library is overwhelmed while others are still closed.

Here are some of the practical arrangements that will likely be in place with the initial reopening of the building:

  • The Library will provide curbside services. Patrons may call and request books that will then be placed in a bag outside the building at a designated time for drive-by pick-up.
  • There will be a limit on the number of people allowed in the building at any one time.
  • Computer services will be limited. Cleaning each computer will be required between every usage.
  • Conference and meeting rooms will not be available.
  • No inter-library loans from the Minuteman Regional Network will be possible in this first phase.
  • The Children’s Room will remain closed. Library staff realizes this is a tough decision but they are concerned that small children find “safe distancing” too hard to practice.

As a board member of the Minuteman Regional Network, Callaghan is in constant touch with other libraries in our area; directors are trading innovative ideas and coming up with best practices.

One new feature: Bedford’s Facilities Department is now installing Plexiglass screens at all “public service” desks in town buildings and will place these at the Library’s Circulation and Reference desks as well.

In his report, Callaghan mentioned that additional Wi-Fi service points are being installed in the building during this shut-down period. Painting and extra cleaning are also being done. There are still many unanswered questions: one concerns the Friends of the Library spring book sale, now postponed until Bedford Day (assuming that event takes place.) There may not be enough storage room for donations as they come in over the summer. Callaghan noted with thanks that the Friends funded ScienceTellers, the Library’s first online program for children. As anticipated, the use of digital services such as Overdrive, Hoopla, and Kanopy has skyrocketed. Remote access has now been provided to Ancestry, the popular database that was formerly available for use only in the Library.

Callaghan presented a policy statement, “The Covid-19 Pandemic and Reopening of the Bedford Free Public Library” to the Trustees.  It was approved unanimously and will be available to staff and patrons, with the proviso that the “Director and Trustees may adjust the policy to meet emergent needs.”  As Callaghan remarked ruefully, “We’ve tried to think of everything but there is always something unanticipated that comes up.”

Click this link to read the library’s policy statement.

The meeting concluded with the annual Board reorganization. Elizabeth Hacala will continue as Chair for a second term; Mike Pulizzi is Vice-Chair, and Alma Hart is Secretary. Trustees Rachel Field, Robin Grace, and Mike Pulizzi were elected to the Library Corporation.



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