Homebound reading by the numbers
The pandemic lockdown has been vexing to any number of businesses and service providers, but has been uniquely challenging for librarians, who work in one of the most heavily people-centered service sectors. While all of Henderson County’s libraries have reopened with limited hours and services, the five months of closure were hardly idle ones, especially for librarians who had to answer more than 13,000 questions via the system’s “Ask A Librarian” phone service. More than 20,000 books were delivered curbside to borrowers, along with an online tutoring system called Brainfuse, launched for students returning to school. The more than 100 filmed story times and other programs posted online were viewed 45,000 times by homebound learners.
“While the library was closed, we heard from many library users how much they missed browsing the shelves,” says the library system’s Assistant Director Lisa Donaldson. “The majority of calls we received were requests to put books on hold for curbside pickup. We also assisted users with checking out books from the Digital Library and using our digital resources, which are available 24/7.”
While COVID-19 precautions remain in effect for the foreseeable future, at least book lovers can once again enjoy a real, rather than a virtual, library. (Face coverings are required for visitors to all library branches, with a 30-minute limit on visiting time. At press time, magazines, newspapers, seating, and meeting spaces remained unavailable.)
Henderson County’s Main Branch Library (301 North Washington St.) is open for limited browsing and computer use Monday through Thursday, 1-7pm; Friday, 1-5pm; and Saturday, 10am-5pm. Masks are required. Closed Sunday. To look up hours for Fletcher Library, Edneyville Library, Etowah Library, Green River Library, and Mills River Library, see hendersoncountync.gov/library. The Main Branch Library is still offering curbside pickup; call 828-697-4725 for more information.