Hoag Library will close building to public after Friday

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Hoag Library Board of Trustees met for nearly two hours on Wednesday to discuss closing the library to the public and what services could be offered. Pictured from left include trustees Terry Wilbert, Anitrice Bennett, Dan Conrad, Board President Kevin Doherty, Library Director Betty Sue Miller, and trustees Debbie DiBacco, Linda Weller and Gloria Nauden. Meghan Doherty, in back, is the secretary for the board.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2020 at 9:27 am

Albion site will continue some services during shutdown due to coronavirus

ALBION – Hoag Library’s Board of Trustees voted on Wednesday evening to close the library building to the public after 5 p.m. Friday, due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Hoag is one of few remaining libraries currently open in the region. Library leaders wanted to keep the building open so people could continue to have access to computers, books and other resources in the library.

But concerns over the virus convinced the board to close the library.

“Since our board meeting a week ago things have changed substantially,” said Terry Wilbert, one of the library trustees.

Hoag Library has many bottles of hand sanitizer throughout the building.

Even with the closure, the library will continue to offer services to the community. Community members can call or email requests for books, and library staff will put those books and other materials in plastic bags in the front lobby. Staff will also handle requests to make copies and send faxes for community members. Staff will be onsite Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’ll be able to provide the public almost everything we do now,” said Betty Sue Miller, library director.

Hoag had already cancelled special events at the library because it didn’t want larger crowds in the building. Miller believed the library was effective in maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet between people. Staff were also frequently wiping down common areas, computer keyboards and returned books.

But on Wednesday night, during a two-hour board meeting, trustees were unanimous in voting to close the building to the public.

Kevin Doherty, president of the board, said he expects that directive would have come soon from the state anyway.

Hoag will have staff on site during the closure, but only half of the employees at a time. The governor issued a directive for workplaces to reduce on-site staff to 50 percent to help slow the spread of the virus.

Hoag has 13 employees, and six are full-time. The library intends to keep paying them during the shutdown.

Miller, the library director, pushed to have the library open today and Friday to give the public two days to get materials, make copies, pick up tax forms and tend to other business before the building closes.

The library will post its services on its website and also in the front lobby. Many books, videos and materials will be available online. Hoag staff may create YouTube videos to help patrons navigate the online options through Hoag and the Nioga Library System.

Miller said library staff and patrons have needed to be flexible during this health crisis.

“What we’re doing now might not be what we’re doing in a half hour or tomorrow,” Miller told the board during Wednesday’s meeting.

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