ROCKPORT — In March 2019, just one year ago, the Camden Hills Regional High School Edna St. Vincent Millay Library circulated 129 books to readers. So far this March, through this unsettled period of history when students are sequestered at home, the library has circulated 365 books.
How are students getting those books, as well as art supplies?
From dedicated staff, like Iris Eichenlaub, librarian/technology integrator and Beth Chamberlin, who got a package of poetry books — Edna St. Vincent Millay and Billy Collins — together for a sophomore student who asked for them. She put carefully packaged the books in a box and sent them on a waiting school bus that was also delivering lunches to the students on March 19.
“We included a handwritten note and some tiny stickers,” said Eichenlaub.
Art teacher Carolyn Brown collected a bag of tools for artists, such as a brand new box of pastels, for student home delivery.
Later, for another student, the library staff filled a bag of food from the library food pantry, added the Manga books the student requested, and a ruler because they didn’t have one at home (with centimeters, for their forensics class).
That was last week, and just like everything else in the world is quickly changing, the library has adjusted its lending practice. It is, however, still gathering books from the shelves to circulate to students.
On Friday, March 20, teachers and staff were told their access to the building was to be minimal, given the contagion COVID-19. That prompted Eichenlaub to develop a new plan for students who want to borrow books.
Going forward, staff will take book requests by email and then travel to the school once or twice per week to fill the orders. Then, book borrowers are to pick up the books at the school, as opposed to having them delivered via school bus.
Eichenlaub said she has been receiving requests from students every night for books, “sometimes on behalf of younger siblings or parents.”
The procedure entails that: “folks will need to come to the school to pick the items up,” she said. “I will bag the books and label the bag with a student’s name and they will be located outside the front entry (locked) doors, or in inclement weather just inside the two sets of doors. I will communicate via email that the ‘order’ is ready for pick up and arrange a time when the student is able to stop by.”
Requested books are sanitized.
“We have created a ‘clean table’, wiped daily with sanitizing wipes,” said Eichenlaub. “No one puts anything there except clean and sanitized books. This is where we place checked-out books, wiped down with sanitizing wipes as we check them out with our freshly-sanitized hands. From there we bag them up for quick pick-up.”
Returning books is a different matter: Eichenlaub said the library does not want the books to return to the library for the time being.