Library During Lockdown

On March 13, 2020 the Office of Commonwealth Libraries closed all Pennsylvania libraries. I remember getting that email. I was in a grocery store in Carlisle. A dozen phone calls to staff and board members ensued, all from the frozen food section. What was a two week closure extended well into summer. I suspect most of you are familiar with the rest of the general story and the story of the Dillsburg Area Public Library’s experience follows the same pattern as many area libraries during the closure. But here it is…

We immediately pivoted to work from home and virtually (as much as possible). Our wonderful children’s librarian Sue Rizzo started virtual programs within a few days of closure. I (and other Dillsburg and York County Libraries’ staff) used social media to engaged our adult patrons in the best ways that we could. YCL increased its ebook and eaudiobook offerings. Our wifi was available for our patrons with devices to use, even it was while sitting in the parking lot or garden. It was trial and error with new systems for delivering library services. As with many organizations, we did the best we could.

I and another staff member, Chris DeLuca, alternated coming into the building every few days to check on things. We were allowed to come in to ensure the physical security of the building and collection, as well as perform necessary administrative tasks. After all, bills need paid. For me, as the director, there were lots of emails, phone calls, and virtual meetings with Dillsburg Library and system staff. Lots of planning toward reopening. Lots of learning about new guidelines and processes.

We even conducted an audit of our 2019 finances and applied for (and received) a PPP loan remotely. Lots of emails, scans, and uploads of necessary documents!

In May, we got permission from the state to start the reopening process. Working out logistics and staff training made for a June 15 opening day. When that day came we reopened for the first time since March 13. Three months and two days…and that was for lobby pick up of holds only. At least we were in operation again!

Everyone was wonderful during this time. We did our best to keep ourselves and everyone safe, but still connect with our patrons. We learned and adapted on the fly. Hopefully it will be a once in a lifetime experience for all of us.

Keith L Greenawalt, DAPL Director