BY JASMINE PALMA
Nearly two weeks after launching library to-go services, the Queens Public Library says its lent out tens of thousands of items.
Seven library branches — Bayside, Bellerose, East Elmhurst, Kew Gardens, Laurelton, Long Island City and Peninsula — began providing grab-and-go service on Monday, July 13, after having been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The open branches lent approximately 3,800 books and materials, and checked in more than 20,000 items, according to the QPL. The library also welcomed an estimated 2,000 patrons back to its branches.
“Everyone is so happy just to be able to enjoy the service,” said Dave Wang, manager of the Laurelton branch. “Even though the library service is limited, you will see all coming back.”
QPL further reported that over 315,000 items were on loan from the library when branches across the borough closed their doors in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, there is no rush to return the items immediately.
Checked out books, movies and CDs will not be due nor begin to amass fines until Oct. 1.
In spite of the progression toward normalcy, Queens Public Library has conveyed health and safety as its top priority during the reopening.
“We understand the reality. We’ve been cautious. Now in New York, we are in good shape. We try to do more for the public,” Wang said.
Visitors and staff have been practicing social distancing and wearing masks, according to Ewa Kern Jedrychowska, the deputy communications director for Queens Public Library. Signs have been placed at each location reminding visitors to maintain a six-foot distance with one another and to keep their masks on.
“So far there have been no issues and all of our customers have followed our health and safety protocols,” said Jedrychowska.
Depending on how the to-go service unfolds at its current locations as well as how New York’s overall reopening plan plays out, Queens Library will slowly open more of its branches.
There is no concrete timetable for when a full reopening of the libraries will occur, according to QPL.
Another nine branches, though not open for to-go service, have started to receive returns at book drops and external return machines. Those branches are located in Cambria Heights, Central, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Queensboro Hill, Rego Park, Ridgewood and South Ozone Park branches.
“We try as best we can to deliver service to the public,” said Wang. “The library’s so important to the life of the community.”