Libraries find ways to stay of service while doors are closed

  • The Robertson Library in Leyden is closed but has the Wi-Fi password posted in the window for drive-up internet use. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Robertson Library in Leyden is closed but has the WiFi password posted in the window for drive-up internet use. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/25/2020 8:34:22 AM
Modified: 3/25/2020 8:59:14 AM

The Robertson Memorial Library in Leyden may not be letting anyone inside at the moment, but it is encouraging residents to access its WiFi for work, or use its temporary “curbside pickup” to grab extra reading and entertainment materials to enjoy while staying at home in the coming weeks.

Last week, the Selectboards for Leyden and Northfield, along with other towns in Franklin County and North Quabbin, voted to close town buildings to the public for the next few weeks. In the interim, librarians have worked to remain accessible through online resources or other means.

The Robertson Memorial Library has the only WiFi broadband service in Leyden, and Librarian Karin Parks said many people come to the library to get their work done. To make sure this is still an option for people, Parks printed out the WiFi login large enough to be seen by anyone who wants to sit in the library parking lot and work from their car.

“We had about six people working from their cars Wednesday,” Parks said. “We wave to them through the windows.”

Additionally, both the Robertson Memorial Library in Leyden and the Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield libraries have been conducting “curbside pickup” this past week.

“I’ve been going through and sanitizing all requests, bundling them and putting them outside for pickup,” said Parks.

Parks said the librarians are doing their best to stay accessible to local readers while considering the health safety of library employees and the public. Residents have been calling or sending messages through Facebook to request materials. Some ask for entertainment reading, while others seek more educational materials.

“As someone suddenly homeschooling a toddler, I know how important these materials are,” Parks said.

The library will also be conducting live video streams for story time events, or for crafts that people can follow along with at home. Parks said she has even had interest from someone who may teach a painting class virtually.

“We’re offering things that will get people to stop thinking about this crazy world we’re living in right now,” Parks said.


According to Greenfield Public Library Assistant Director Lisa Prolman, the library has been fully closed for the public since Saturday, March 14 per order of the mayor, and will be closed until at least April 8. The library is unable to offer curbside pickup services during this time. Prolman said that with limited staffing, and to ensure the health safety of patrons and employees, it did not pursue this option.

“We’re still ordering books and cataloging, so when we do re-open we will have even more materials for our patrons,” Prolman said.

In the meantime, the Greenfield Public Library is are keeping up with administrative business, cleaning and communicating with patrons through social media to encourage the use of the library’s online resources.


The Dickinson Memorial Library employees are available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone who wished to pick up books, movies or more this week. Guests called the library and reserved items to be placed in a bag and left on the library porch for pickup. Return books are still being accepted, too.

“We are emptying our book drop every day, quarantining the items for three days or disinfecting them before they are available to the public,” said Matt Atwood, programming librarian at the Dickinson Memorial Library.

Atwood also said no library cards will expire, or need to be updated, before May 1. Checked-out library items are now considered due May 1.In an effort to slow the COVID-19 virus down, the Bernardston Cushman Library will be closed, at least, through Saturday, March 28, hopefully reopening on Monday, April 6. Online resources are still available, and updates will be made on the library’s Facebook page.


Jessica Magelaner, director of the Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange, can deliver books to a home or bring them to a patron in the parking lot, though deliveries will be by phone appointment only in order to limit contact. Magelaner can be reached at 978-544-2495, ext. 101. Staff members have been instructed to not let anyone into the building while it is closed.

“We’ll make exceptions for emergencies, but wanting a book is not an emergency, though we definitely understand how it feels to be stuck at home with nothing to read!” a statement on the library website reads.

You can also leave books in the book drop at the library at any time.


Library staff remains working and is now offering curbside pickup and home delivery of library items, including books, audiobooks and DVDs. Call 413-665-2642 or send an email to for more information or to receive library services.

The library’s digital collections are available around the clock at and WiFi is available in the library’s parking lot and backyard from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Staff members are still able to print or photocopy documents. Call the library or email your documents. Also, help with technology is also available and can be provided by email, phone, video conferencing, or curbside at the library.

No one may visit the library to browse for materials or use the technology during these unprecedented times, and all programs and meetings scheduled for the library are canceled.

Whately and Conway

The S. White Dickinson Memorial Library in Whately and Field Memorial Library in Conway are waiving all fines at this time.

New Salem

The New Salem Public Library may be unique in that, according to its website, patrons may call ahead to request computer time, though only two people will be allowed at a time, “and must be feeling well.”

All returns should be placed in the outside book drop. Patrons may call to request items available and set a pickup time. The items will be placed in a bag and left outside the door.

Patrons are encouraged to use e-books and audio books. Online resources for e-books and audiobooks can be found at and

The library will be closed until at least April 6, but a staff member will be available to accept phone calls between noon and 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursdays, and between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays.


Internet access remains available in the Wendell Free Library parking lot. No password is necessary, though Director Rosie Heidkamp requests there be no idling vehicles.

E-books, audiobooks and e-magazines can be borrowed on the OverDrive Platform at or on the OverDrive Libby app for iOS or Android. You will need your library card number and password. If you don’t know your password, call the library at 978-544-3559 and it can be reset for you. Access to newspapers, encyclopedias and research articles can be found at

Materials can still be returned via the library drop boxes. You can also keep them at home until regular library service resumes. No overdue fines will be charged.


The Athol Public Library is closed until further notice, but staff members will be in the building during business hours and will assist patrons with digital services over the phone.

Shelburne and Buckland

The Shelburne Free Public and Buckland Public libraries are closed until further notice. Patrons are advised to hold on to their library materials until the buildings reopen. All fines will be waived.


A webpage for the the Griswold Memorial Library said the library is closed, though the decision to do so was not taken lightly because such institutions are critical for towns with isolated populations. Patrons are encouraged to check the website and Facebook pages for updates.

Regular library events are also canceled until further notice.

For information on other Franklin County libraries, turn to your local town and library websites or Facebook pages to see what is available. Updates are being posted as often as possible with new materials for personal reading or other virtual resources.

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