Area libraries facing COVID challenges

Pandemic leads to SPL employee furloughs

By Drew Stambaugh - [email protected]

As the novel coronavirus has spread across the world it has impacted nearly every aspect of life. Libraries have not been immune to the effects.

The Swanton Public Library is facing financial challenges, according to Director Adam Walter.

“We have seen a significant drop in our state funding,” he said. “All libraries in Ohio are now being affected by this drop in tax revenue during the quarantine. The predictions for losses range around 20%.”

At least partly because of those predictions, library employees have been impacted. At an emergency board meeting at the beginning of April, the library trustees decided that furloughing the majority of employees would be the best decision.

“This allows them to still collect unemployment and also remain covered under the library’s health care plan and collecting benefits that are offered such as sick leave and retirement,” said Walter. “This was not an easy decision. Several other options were considered.”

The Wauseon Public Library will face similar financial losses, but exact figures are not yet known.

“Our main funding from the state will definitely be impacted, as that is based on sales tax,” said Maricela DeLeon, Wauseon library director. “As far as smaller funding, we will not see income from our other services such as copies, faxing, and fines.”

Employees of Wauseon Public Library are coming into the library occasionally to take care of mail, book drop, and minor material processing. Most shipments have been stopped since staff is not in to accept them. Staff members are also doing a complete inventory and continuous cleaning and disinfecting.

Despite the closure of the libraries, some services are still offered. Patrons are able to borrow digital materials and have the use of various research databases by visiting their library’s website.

“We are all dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and we appreciate the communities’ understanding,” said Walter. “If there were a time for libraries to be a valuable resource, it is now. SPL provides access to books, movies, games, Internet access, and much more.”

Swanton Public Library’s WiFi is on 24 hours a day. Anyone within range is welcome to use it.

“We updated our WiFi earlier this year, so it now has a wider range,” said Walter. “Keeping social distancing in mind, people are welcome to be on the library grounds while we are closed.”

At this point, there is no definitive re-open date set for the libraries.

The Wauseon Public Library Board of Trustees met on Monday, and, based on Governor DeWine’s order, library officials believe they will start to reopen on May 12.

“We will only be offering curbside service at that time. We are working on details as to how we will handle that,” said DeLeon. “After our May meeting we hope to have a definite timeline as to when we will open our doors to the public. We are working on guidelines and procedures to ensure the safety of our patrons and our staff.”

Swanton plans to reassess their options closer to May 12.

”Unfortunately, we cannot be open to offer our resources. This has been a trying time for everyone, and SPL staff looks forward to reopening and providing access to all of our services,” Walter said. “We will continue to do our best and keep the community updated.”
Pandemic leads to SPL employee furloughs

By Drew Stambaugh

[email protected]