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APL explores alternative ways to reach community during pandemic

By: Donnamy Steele

As the pandemic continues, the Andalusia Public Library is exploring alternative ways for community members to have access to the library. They are offering curbside pickup and are working on introducing e-books to the library’s website. Caryl Lee Ray explained how to reserve a book and when pickup is available.

“Pickup will be outside of the library on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11 to three. People can go online and look at the books or they can call to reserve them,” Ray said. “A lot of our elderly clients would rather call, so if they tell us what genre or author, we can tell them what we have available and reserve it for them. We then label the books and put them by the back door.”

Despite the doors being closed, the library is as busy as ever. “Our phones are constantly ringing. We’ve also been working on the aesthetics of the building. We’ve all got ideas and dreams and hopes and we are working on keeping the library safe and making it better without risking the integrity of the building. We’ve been lifting, painting and moving. We may be shushing, but we are not quiet,” Ray said.

Some of the renovations include additional cleaning due to the pandemic.

“As far as protecting everyone from COVID, we put up the shields of plexiglass, hand sanitizers, and we disinfect books as they come in so that when they go to a new home they are clean.”

To ensure safety, the library is not accepting book donations at this time.

“We’ve noticed a few books being left outside as donations, but we are not accepting donations as of right now because we don’t really know what home it is coming from, if it is clean, and for safety reasons we are not accepting them right now,” Ray said.

During quarantine, the library’s director retired, introducing a new face to the library.

“We have a new interim director. Our director Karin Taylor retired, she had been with the city for nearly 30 years I believe, and Mona Simon has stepped up,” Ray said. “She is a sweet, sweet lady and she is doing some incredible things.”

One of the plans Simon has is to go digital, according to Ray.

“Her plan is to go digital, have e-books for us, and have the building be wireless,” Ray said. “She has been working with the IT department on it.”

In an attempt to stay connected and provide for the community, the library is giving away free books.

“We are doing zip lock bags with kids games, books, and DVDs and other freebies that people can take. We don’t know what we can do to help since the library and the computer lab is closed, so we are giving away some things,” Ray said.

Ray explained that she misses her time with the local children who would participate in her summer reading program.

“I miss the children’s programs. I am really, really missing my babies. I have talked to many parents and we thought about maybe doing an outside storytime so everyone can distance themselves and have a basic reading of 2 or 3 stories,” Ray said. “The parents had this idea, and I am beginning to feel withdrawals.”

Ray hopes to hear more about the possibility of an outside reading program soon. “Hopefully within the next 2 weeks we will know more about it,” Ray said. “The city is opening a new Facebook page for the library and it will be posted on there. I try to put everything on my

page, As Told by Caryl Lee, as well. We hope to open the library back up in the next few weeks as well.” To reserve a book, call the Andalusia Public Library at 334-222-6612.