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DML Magazine Summer 2020
Imagination Library

A Message From the Executive Director

Restoring Library Service: Dialing Up the Dimmer Switch

tim2In the past few weeks, Dayton Metro Library has achieved several milestones:

  • Our Ask Me Line is now answered live six days a week.
  • We designed and launched an entirely new service - Curbside Pickup.
  • We restored Homebound Delivery - a critical service for our most vulnerable populations.
  • We have restored our ability to safely accept returns (more than 100,000 items are currently checked out!)
  • We launched our huge annual summer reading club - Summer Challenge - as a virtual edition.

Each of these restored, newly-developed, or redefined programs took an inordinate amount of creative thinking and planning. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, yet I am asked one big question almost every day: When will we reopen our Libraries?

Returning Library service to a more familiar state is not going to be like flipping a light switch. It can be better described as turning up the dial. We offer a long list of services to a variety of Library users; responding to each will require unique solutions. Safety for you and our staff must be fully integrated into our operations. We won’t take shortcuts. As we reintroduce additional services, we ask you to join us in following recommended safety protocols. This includes wearing masks and quarantining items as they are used and returned.

As the depth of the COVID-19 crisis was better understood, we conducted a survey to gauge how you and your neighbors were coping, and to tell us what you wanted most from your Library. You may have been one of the more than 3,100 respondents who told us that access to our books and media was the service people missed the most. Services to older adults and youth were important priorities as well. Your responses have driven our decision making and aided our planning.

Now that we offer convenient ways for you to request, retrieve, and return books and other media, our attention is focused on a phased approach to addressing other needs, including access to computers and the internet. Reopening any part of our buildings to the general public requires a new level of planning and demands new safety protocols. Working with other county-wide library systems in Ohio, we are establishing best practices to provide residents access to our computers, allowing us to assist and support our communities while at the same time ensuring your safety and that of our staff.

This is not to say DML won’t be the first to try something new. We found creative ways for children to participate in our Summer Challenge, logging their reading and earning prizes. And I feel reasonably confident in saying we’re the only Library system offering two week-long summer camps this season, both virtual - one for middle schoolers and one for K-3rd graders.

There is nothing more pressing for me right now than finding the right way and the right time to reopen our doors. I pledge to make these decisions using all available information and input, and to let the community know as soon as our plan is in place.

Until that time, please keep using our 24/7 Branch Library, call our Ask Me Line to place your holds and requests or ask your reference questions, enroll your child in our Summer Challenge, plan to attend our virtual camps, and definitely stop by your Library curbside to check out books, movies, music, magazines and newspapers.

Thank you!

Tim Kambitsch
Executive Director

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