It has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us. We’ve struggled to cope with the pandemic and grappled with the exhaustingly divisive politics of a presidential election year. One heartwarming sentiment that many of us at the Phoenicia Library have heard repeatedly over the past few months, however, is how incredibly fortunate we all are to live in this beautiful place supported by the strength of our vibrant community.
In many ways, we feel this is our moment. We believe that libraries are more important than ever. And with your support, we want to continue to be a cornerstone of our community.
The March closing of New York State was the start of a very difficult time. And the lock-down posed a formidable challenge for libraries — how can we serve the community when we weren’t even allowed in the building? Following the resilient ways characteristic of our small mountain town, our librarians leapt into action to reimagine how to meet our patrons’ needs by providing services virtually, by telephone and by delivery. Within a week of closure, we transitioned to become a bona fide virtual library with multi-modal support for patrons.
A few examples of our work:
- In the first months of the pandemic, our librarians called senior patrons to simply ask, “How are you? Do you need anything?” We provided a friendly, familiar voice connecting patrons with food resources, legal assistance, transportation and library service education including how to use our vast e-book resources.
- We provided free tech learning support — our monthly Computer Fixer continued and was augmented with “emergency” house calls for patrons with urgent needs. We helped teachers, children and telecommuters resolve issues so their work and/or schooling wasn’t impacted.
- We partnered with Hudson Valley Food Bank to deliver groceries to children and their families. About 35 people now receive fresh and pantry supplies from a librarian each week, so far a total of 5,067 lbs. of food. This program will continue through summer 2021.
- With intensified caregiving needs during the quarantine, we hosted our first-ever virtual Memory Caregiver support group.
- We migrated all our children’s programs online including the nightly reading of a bedtime story and our popular art hour — both led by beloved educators.
- We delved into local issues and kept connected with residents with our virtual program “Phoenicia Chats,” which featured the local Police Chief, a writer on pandemics, the Onteora School District Superintendent, and the Town Clerk.
- We continued our free legal information outreach with a retired lawyer to assist patrons with issues stemming from the pandemic.
Since July, we have been able to provide curbside service five afternoons a week, which provides 100% safe pick up of books and DVD’s for patrons. The Phoenicia Library applied for and fortunately received a CARES Act PPP loan that supplied substantial funds for wages and helped us make ends meet in 2020. Twenty percent of our annual operating budget, however, relies on donations. Today we need to raise money for 2021.
I hope you’ll agree that the Phoenicia Library is a unique and valuable resource. We need you beside us. Please consider making a gift to the Library to ensure that we have the resources necessary to continue to deliver these crucial services to our neighbors. We believe that the health of our community depends on it.
From all of us on the staff and board, thank you for considering an investment in us. We wish you all the best and hope to see you soon at the Phoenicia Library!
President, Board of Trustees