“Windows to the World”: Eugene Public Library returns to pre-pandemic hours | New
All three branches of Eugene’s public library returned to their pre-pandemic hours on November 1. The downtown library will now be open on Sundays and the Bethel and Sheldon branches will return in the evening hours.
The downtown library is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, according to a announcement by the city. The Bethel and Sheldon branches are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday to Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
“One of the things that is important for us is to have a variety of hours, so that we can meet the needs of the variety of community members who have different work schedules,” said LaVena Nohrenberg, responsible for user experience.
Director of Library Services Will O’Hearn said the extended hours would provide more convenience for community members. “Access is one of the things that really pushes us forward and it’s really essential for us,” O’Hearn said.
The library has hired more staff to fill those extended hours, O’Hearn said.
Autumn Shafter, a professor in the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, said she takes her kids to the library once a month and they love to tell stories, books and stories. ‘get used to computers. Although she has not been to the library since the start of the pandemic, she looks forward to returning there regularly once the community’s spread subsides, she said.
The Eugene Public Library closed the doors to its buildings on March 14, 2020, but kept its “virtual doors” open as much as possible, O’Hearn said. People could check the articles online, and staff continued chat and phone services to help customers navigate the services.
O’Hearn said library staff need to be creative in providing services without the buildings being open. For example, staff helped people get library cards over the phone rather than in person, he said. The library began offering curbside service in early summer 2020.
The pandemic created additional duties for library staff, such as when they were advised to quarantine items returned at the start of the pandemic, O’Hearn said. The library and its reopening committee have worked closely with the city to monitor general security practices, he said.
The Eugene Public Library reopened in late summer 2020, O’Hearn said. In a recent announcement by the city, O’Hearn said many people have told staff the library has been their lifeline over the past year.
“A lot of times people were more alone, so the library was a window to the world,” O’Hearn said. The library provided free entertainment for everyone when some people had more free time, but no free income, he said.
“The first day we opened, I realized how important our computers were,” he said. Someone told him that he was unable to verify his bank account while the library buildings were closed. Another person told O’Hearn that the library allowed them to connect with loved ones on Facebook.
Nohrenberg said the library continued to serve as an equal point of access during the pandemic, providing services such as computers, Wi-Fi and recharging once its buildings reopen.
“It’s the one place where everyone has the same access, equal access to everything, whatever your role in the community, whatever your status in the community,” Nohrenberg said.
“We’re here because we care about literacy,” O’Hearn said. “We care about sharing knowledge with the world and different experiences. We are happy to do so and happy to have been able to help serve the community as much as possible during a difficult and difficult time for our community.