The Nelson Public Library has reopened with limited hours. Nelson Star file photo

COLUMN: What the Nelson library needs most … is you!

Avi Silberstein of the library fills us in on the progress of re-opening

By Avi Silberstein

When I was a child my school librarian organized a Read-a-thon. It was a reading marathon — with a twist. The twist being, it was in the school library. At night.

That was my first time being in an empty library, dark and devoid of patrons. In the beginning it was eerie — but then it suddenly became magical and exciting.

Well folks, the last few months our library hasn’t exactly been as magical and exciting as it used to be. On the contrary, it’s been missing the most important ingredient: you. A library without patrons is like a cookie without chocolate chips. Like a jungle without monkeys.

We began our reopening last week (albeit with limited hours), and it’s been great welcoming you all back to the library. We’re especially gratefully for the patience you’ve shown us given all the changes we’ve had to make.

At the moment, we are operating on a limited basis — you are welcome to drop by during our new opening hours to borrow books and other items or to print/photocopy, but we are not currently offering seating, washrooms, or computers.

Here are some questions (both real and imaginary) we’ve had about our reopening:

What hours are you open?

For this stage we are open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. We’ve also set aside a special time for seniors and high-risk individuals only: 10 to 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

What safety precautions do you have in place?

We’ve moved things around to make it easier for you to maintain physical distance from each other. Our holds shelf has moved, as has our self-check machine (which we replaced). There is a bit of a flow to how we’d like you to move through the library, and we’ve indicated it with arrows. We expect there to be a learning curve! And we’re here to help.

Where do I return my books?

We recently had our book drop moved. It is no longer in the lobby, and is now located outside the library near the bike rack.

When will I be able to use the computers?

Soon, we hope! We’re working hard to make public computers available once again — it is one of our biggest priorities.

We are continually changing and adapting – and we invite you to send along any feedback or suggestions you might have. We’re not going to get things perfect right from the start, but we are committed to tweaking things as necessary in order to make things work as well as they can given the circumstances.

We’re happy to see you back in the library again. We missed you, and although we were able to get books in your hands and deliver programs virtually during the time our building was closed, there’s nothing quite like opening our doors back up.

An empty library is hardly more than a warehouse full of books. But once the doors swing open and the sunlight streams in and people start entering – well, that’s nothing short of magic.

Avi Silberstein is the children’s librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week.

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