When was the last time you went to a library?

I don’t mean that derogatorily towards libraries at all; it’s a legitimate question. I’ll answer first: I haven’t been to my local library since high school. I would utilize my college’s library for meetings and events, but I never took out a book.

Even now, I’ll Google around for a book I need or want, and then simply purchase it and keep it among all of my others on my shelves to collect dust until I need to reference it again.

This doesn’t mean I don’t read. Au contraire. Books align with the very nature of our educated existence. They are the first thing we buy for our children. And while I’m sure my experience is not uncommon, there are many people who live and breathe for their local libraries; and, still others who may not utilize their services, but still support them, understand their importance, and encourage their use.

I have a girlfriend who religiously patronized her college and neighborhood libraries, and then brought her children there for weekly reading sessions. (I can also see myself doing this when my son gets a little older.)

But, now, libraries are so much more than just books. They have been for a while. They are quiet spaces in which to study. They have computers and printers and e-books and and DVDs and fax machines. They offer people in the community an opportunity to get help from a trained librarian who can access a wide array of information in an instant.

So what does this mean for libraries, especially now, during a pandemic? Nothing…really. Libraries have been growing and adapting with the times, just as we all have during the digital age. And this isn’t the first pandemic libraries have “lived” through. While discussing this article with the editor, she emailed: “…but the death notice for libraries has been written so many times, and they have survived. They will survive this, I’m sure.”

That’s a fact.

The Albany Public Library says it right on their homepage:

“We have all the traditional library resources you need – books and movies, computers and WiFi, databases and research, storytimes and tutoring – plus services including bike repair stations, a makerspace, museum passes, fitness classes, and meeting rooms.”

With all that, how could we live without them?

Of course, due to COVID things have changed. The North Albany and Washington Avenue branches of the APL closed, but curbside pickup appointments are available at Arbor Hill/West Hill, Howe, Bach, Delaware, and Pine Hills. And if you check out the library events page, most programming is continuing virtually.

And just announced this week, two of the branches are reopening for some in-person services.

A of Sept. 14, library patrons may use the following services, all of which require an appointment, at the Arbor Hill/West Hill and Howe branches:

● Copy, print, scan, and fax documents
● Use a computer
● Purchase or replenish a CDTA Navigator card
● Get reference and research assistance from a librarian
● Utilize a notary (limited branches and hours)

“Our patrons have been asking to use computers, make copies and fax documents, and get information and research assistance from librarians,” said APL Executive Director Scott C. Jarzombek. “The pandemic required us to modify our buildings, institute cleaning and safety protocols, and train staff on new procedures. We are now ready to safely provide these much-requested in-person services by appointment at two locations.”

Patrons can request appointments by calling the Arbor Hill/West Hill Branch at (518) 694-0596 x221 or the Howe Branch at (518) 472-9485 x221. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 12:30 – 5:30 p.m. Times and services may be limited due to availability, staffing, and distancing requirements.

And if you need further proof that APL is keeping up with the times: Jarzombek hosts a podcast for the Library called “Albany Made,” which you can find on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and SoundCloud.

The Troy Public Library branches are also open with limited services and hours. You can find out more on their website, https://www.thetroylibrary.org/.

All of the Schenectady County Public Library locations are closed, but they are offering online and curbside services. That information can be found here.

I guess I’ll need to stop Googling and hit up my local library. I hope they still take my card…