Reading into a Reopening

Stoughton public library reopens after more than a year of only curbside pickup

Gabe Rousseau, Staff Writer

The Stoughton Public Library recently reopened its doors to the public on May 17. This reopening comes after remaining closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The library was one of the first public buildings to close, as its last day open was on March 15, 2020.
Jim Ramsey is the Library’s Director. He shared about the reopening and some of the struggles of the pandemic.
“[The closing] was killer. We were really disappointed in the course that the pandemic has taken in the last year,” Ramsey says.

Ramsey explained the changes that have been put in place during this first phase of the reopening.
“We are limiting capacity and we are asking people to limit their time in the library, which is disappointing but necessary,” he says.
Study rooms, meeting rooms, and seating are not available during the first phase of the reopening. Masks are still required and maintaining social distancing of six feet is encouraged.
Reopening the public library had been in the works since its closing in March 2020. Being a public place that people relied on for information, resources, and more, the first weeks of quarantine were very challenging.
“All we could do was watch and wait to see what was going to happen,” Ramsey says.

A month after the closing in April 2020, the library started to reoffer books, resources, and other items to the public using a curbside pickup method. This is where people could schedule appointments to pick up books and other materials.

Ramsey shared that nearly 16,000 curbside pickup appointments were made for just books alone.
During the beginning phases of curbside pickup, all returned items had to be quarantined and cleaned before sending them out for another person to use.
“Once more information came out regarding how COVID is transmitted, we learned that contacting the virus from a surface is extremely rare. There have been zero confirmed cases of COVID that have came from a library book,” Ramsey says.
In November 2020, the library started to allow people to make appointments to use the computers. One person was allowed in the library at a time to use a computer. After the appointment, the staff would thoroughly sanitize and make sure surfaces were clean for the next usage. Ramsey estimates that over 100 computer appointments were made.
While some libraries across the state reopened much earlier, Ramsey and his staff wanted to wait until it was safe for everyone to come back into the building.
“[The reopening] was guided by the data and numbers [of COVID-19] which have been declining. Our staff has had access to the vaccine. We felt that we were in a good spot [to reopen],” he says.
For those who are looking to visit the library, it is currently open Monday through Saturday.
Ramsey mentioned that if things continue to progress in the right direction, certain restrictions may be lifted. He hopes that COVID-19 cases continue to decline so the library can return to full capacity in the future.
Ramsey offered some final words on the reopening.
“We are so excited to have people back in the building. It’s been a long time.”