Checking in With the Library

September 25th, 2020

Photo used
with permission from Jim Ramsey.

Photo used with permission from Jim Ramsey.

Julia Lee, Staff Writer

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing everything in our world, even our own Stoughton Public Library was forced to close completely from the public on March 16. They had to make changes to how they operated, while still trying to be attainable to the community. Library Director Jim Ramsey, who adopted the director position at Stoughton Public Library in April of 2019, had hoped that they would be able to reopen with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers original two week shut down, but then realized things were not going to be over quickly. “The governor issued an order in late April for Libraries to resume curbside pickup delivery service for library materials […] And so we started doing that on May 4,” Ramsey says.

Since the deliveries of materials between the 50 libraries in the South Central Library System had to be stopped, the Stoughton Public Library promised to get items people wanted if they placed them on hold, even if they weren’t in the library. In June, when numbers started to look better and cases were down, the Library publicly announced that it would be reopening with new regulations according to COVID safety measures on July 6. This would’ve included things like allowing patrons inside the building to pick up holds, and the ability to use the computers by appointments. In late June, however, cases started to spike, causing those plans to be put on hold until further notice.

On July 6, library staff were put back on their regular hours, and curbside— or as Ramsey describes it, expanded curbside—pickup continued. “We expanded the hours that people could pick up items and we also introduced a feature called curbside express, where instead of having to make an appointment and maybe wait for a day or two […], people can just call us ten minutes before they’re ready to pick up their item(s) and we can have them out to pick up.”Virtual programs have also been implemented since the pandemic. Cynthia Schlegel, a library staff member who works in the Adult Department and serves both adults and teens/tweens entering 6th grade and up. She has been busy coming up with creative ideas to get people in the community involved in virtual activities. In the early days of the pandemic, a virtual book club received a good response.

Since then, Schlegel has been working on offering other options. “My intern and I have offered a Zoom program every Thursday afternoon with games, prizes, trivia, meme-making, digital art and lots of laughs! It has been very much trial and error trying to find what works,” Schlegel says. She is always looking for ways to get the word out about library programs, and she is also looking into an Instagram account just for teens. Currently, Schlegel posts updates on Facebook and the Stoughton Public Library website. Both Ramsey and Schlegel were thankful for the community response and support, and want to remind people that the library hasn’t gone anywhere, and everyone is still welcome.