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Capital Region Libraries Reducing Hours Again As COVID Cases Increase

Schenectady Public Library

With COVID-19 cases continuing to increase, major public libraries have reduced services.

As of Tuesday the Troy Public Library and the Lansingburgh branch are open by appointment only. Troy Library Director Paul Hicok says all visitors will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing. The maximum capacity will be 10 people at a time at the Main Library and five at a time at the Lansingburgh branch.

"What we're trying to do is discourage a lot of gathering at the library. So if you make an appointment, we're making either half hour or one hour appointments depending, you can still use the computer for one hour per day for access to the internet. And most of the other regular services are still available except for the fact that you do have to make an appointment to come in the building."

The East Greenbush Library is also limiting visits to 15-30 minutes, 20 people at a time.

The Schenectady Public Library has temporarily suspended all in-building services. You can still borrow books and other library materials but you must order in advance and pick-up curbside.

Like everybody else, library officials are watching COVID case numbers and the vaccine rollout. All of the libraries quarantine returned items in time limits ranging from 72 hours to 10 days.

The Albany Public Library has the most restrictions in place. Scott Jarzombek is executive director.

"So right now we've rolled back to phase what we call phase one B, which is curbside pickup of materials, curbside pickup of printouts, there's certain things that we can service the public without having them in the building. Right now, the positive test rate, which is what we follow, you know, is that a percentage that we're not comfortable having people in the building, so we're not allowing the public in the building, we're trying to provide as much service as possible either virtually, so you can actually still call the library and get reference questions answered, and maybe even some tech support. You can email the library to ask a librarian and also get reference support and research support. And at the same time, you can call and you can request items, or you can do it through our website, and then pick them up, you just have to make an appointment. And if you have, you know, you need things printed, you can give our branch a call, give the closest branch a call, and they will tell you how you can send them an email with whatever you need printed."

Jarzombek says the library continues pumping out free WiFi 24 hours a day around its buildings. He adds when time comes to reopen, the main library and North Albany branch will be the last to see services restored completely.

“But you know, the public library will serve us. There were public libraries in 1918. And they went through some of the things that we're currently going through, and then they went on to thrive to become the institutions they are now.”

All of the libraries offer digital content, along with various online activities and services. Check your local library's website for the most up to date information.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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