Libraries vs. Covid-19

During the first few months of the pandemic, many businesses and facilities were temporarily closed, and libraries were no exception. Almost all libraries across the United States were shut down to help minimize the spread of Covid-19, with most only offering curbside pickups or e-books through various apps. In North Carolina specifically, most libraries were closed up until the last few months of 2020 when some slowly began to reopen to the public. 

Among the few counties that reopened their libraries was Wake County, which currently has nineteen locations open. The remaining locations are solely focusing on their “Books on the Go” service, which allows people to hold up to thirty books and receive them through contact-free pickups. 

However, with the pandemic still ongoing, the reopened Wake County libraries are tasked with keeping their environment safe for their staff and visitors. Increased cleaning, plexiglass shields at service desks, the enforcement of masks, and other precautionary measures have been taken to prevent Covid from spreading. Many Wake County libraries also suggest that visitors spend no more than fifteen to thirty minutes at the library to further reduce the risk of exposure. 

Similarly, Apex High’s library has also taken precautions and continues to offer services for students and staff. 

“Our focus at the Apex High School Library throughout the pandemic has been to ensure our learning community continues to have access to materials and resources,” Mr. Summers, a librarian at Apex High’s library, replied when asked how the library has been functioning during the pandemic. “We began offering curbside pickup and delivery for library books and offered office hours to collaborate with staff.” 

He also mentioned the many precautions that Apex’s library has been taking, including requiring visitors to sanitize their hands and remain socially distanced throughout the library. The library staff has also been sanitizing devices and quarantining any used books/materials before returning them for public use. 

The Apex High library has also been playing an integral role in making sure remote learning goes smoothly for both teachers and students. As Mr. Summers told me, the library has been working hard to provide technology for all students and staff, as well as helping them with any tech-related questions or problems they may have.

“It’s been a whirlwind of a year since the pandemic began with shifting schedules, various directives, guidance from Technology Services, and new faces on the staff at school.” Mr. Summers added. “We are so impressed with the work our staff and students have done in the face of adversity this year…”

While reopening libraries may seem pointless to some, it is important to remember that libraries offer a lot for their respective communities. According to the American Library Association, libraries help promote literacy, improve community involvement, and provide technology/resources for those who don’t have access to them at home. Especially during a pandemic, where many are financially struggling, libraries have become more important than ever before. Yet, Covid-19 has been causing many issues for libraries, including trouble with maintaining services, financial losses, and a rise in layoffs. 

If you are in a position to do so, try to support your local or school library by either utilizing their virtual services or by visiting the library in-person (while still following Covid safety guidelines, of course). If you are an Apex High student, you can stay updated on events at Apex High’s library by following their Instagram (@apexhslibrary) or by checking their website (tiny.cc/apexlibrary).

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