A new day at 200 East Washington Street

The walkway between Washington Street and the parking lot located between the library and the Charles Town Presbyterian Church is lined with pre-flowers – tight, green, skinny fists with thin slivers of purple showing through.

The irises, like the library, are showing signs of rebirth.

On Monday, members of the staff returned to work, not to open the doors just yet, but to clean, reorganize, and prepare for the day when our patrons can once again walk through our front doors.

June, Marcia and Sue were busy returning hundreds of returned books to their proper places on the shelves. The director, Marcella, had cleaned and disinfected stacks and stacks of returned books before they could be reintroduced to the collection.

And seated on a child’s chair in an otherwise empty children’s section, Debbie, usually known as Miss Debbie, one of the library’s two storytellers, began to weed the collection, singling out those books which had not been checked out in a very long time.

Since the library had closed, Miss Debbie and Mr. Tim, have appeared online every week, reading selections, singing songs and telling jokes, maintaining a connection with our youngest patrons who are home, waiting for the day they can once again come to their library.

Tuesday, as the staff worked quietly, maintaining safe distances from each other, the phone would ring periodically.

“No, I’m sorry, we’re not open just yet. Please continue checking our Facebook page and website or give us a call,” we say. “We’re hoping to start some services in the near future.”

There are discussions about how and when to open. How “open” is open? How can we continue to be the safe place we have always been? What about the programs, like the Summer Reading Program? Can we still do it?

The answers come slowly, with thoughtful discussion, but we will bring as many of our traditions back to the people.

How we do it will obviously change a bit, as has the world in general, but libraries have survived epidemics, wars and upheaval since mankind’s earliest attempts to create a place of knowledge and imagination, and we will do it again.

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