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Special Interest Group Archive: Reference 08/12/2020

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

Notes from August 12, 2020

The meeting was held on August 12, 2020 via Zoom, and it was convened by Charles DeYoe.


Library Reopening Plans:   We discussed what our various public and academic libraries are currently doing or planning in regards to serving the public (while also protecting staff) during a pandemic.

Chester Library has  re-opened and allow five patrons at at time with an appointment.  Curbside is also an option.  One patron thus far has complained about having to wear a mask.

Rose Memorial Library is having a combination of both public browsing and curbside service.

Goshen Public Library is offering a mixture of in person browsing and curbside assistance with 20 patrons allowed in the building at once.  Patrons seem to appreciate both services.

Bronx Community College is still doing virtual reference at this time.  They are sanitizing and staff safety will be big priorities when the library opens up again. 

Dominican College has not opened to the public yet, and they are still working from home. The library will reopen to only allow students and staff.  They are a popular study venue, and have now set up furniture with social distancing.  The water cooler is shut off, but the patrons will be able to bring in their own drinks.  Previously they allowed food and even had a food pantry, but that is no longer possible.  

SUNY New Paltz has begun curbside services, and they will open one of their three floors later this month to the public.  When they do re-open, there will be no hanging out.  Staff will have the option to telecommute until October.  Food consumption is also a concern at her library.

Other library services, software and questions or comments:

the site BibliU as a way to offer e-textbooks to college students.

There were questions about whether SEAL is up and running.  They ARE, BUT not every library is OPEN to fulfill these special requests which may leave gaps in service.

It was asked why RCLS is not fully swapping books between all member libraries.  We don’t have the answer to that yet.  Maybe it’s to protect drivers or other staff from being exposed to germy materials? 

One question was when libraries would fully re-open offering the hours and services they once did pre-pandemic.  There doesn’t seem to be any answers or concrete plans for the libraries just yet.  Not all the librarians at the SIG meeting even have buildings that are currently open.

at Goshen last Wednesday (August 5th, 2020) they had a huge amount of patrons wanting to use Wi-Fi. It was hard to get some to leave after 30 minutes, so staff set them outside on their patios with extension cords, tables and chairs.  Patrons were appreciative of this extra help. 

How to best assist patrons while avoiding Covid exposure:

H said that patrons will hopefully get their own materials from the stacks once the library reopens. 

K said patrons will get their own materials on the first floor, and that staff will run to the two lower levels to get everything else.  Doors will be closed to deter patrons from going down to the lower levels.  They’ve installed plexi-glass in some areas, too.

H says they will do reference interviews via Zoom (within the library), rather than face to face.

C asked what to do about IT help?  They have a big need at Bronx Community College for scanning and print services.  How can they help patrons without exposing themselves to the virus? 

O said so far, it’s a struggle to help patrons with computer issues while staying far away from them.  It’s just not safe for him to be sharing a keyboard and mouse with a patron.

Goshen is going to start using screen sharing software very shortly.  This software will allow reference staff to help from their desks, rather than being in close quarters with the patrons.  Interested RCLS libraries could use open source software, but may need to also check with their technicians and ANSER.

Chester is definitely not sitting on patrons’ chairs and doing hands-on computer help at this time.

C’s library is talking about setting up virtual tutorials to help out the patrons.  This will be costly and time-consuming, but will eliminate face-to-face-contact and those associated risks, etc.

Upcoming Reference SIG Meetings:

The Reference SIG hopes to meet again in early October of 2020.


I hope you are doing well! I wanted to send along an update on SEAL. (Apologies for any cross-posting--you might have seen this in last month's SEAL newsletter). At the beginning of August, borrowing was able to resume through SEAL!  At that time, members of the two public library systems automatically became active again. For now, SEAL lenders primarily consist of the two public library systems and the New York State Library.

If you are a public library and don't want to receive any SEAL requests, you can remove your library from the list of available lenders by heading to the "library lending profile" option under My account . If you switch "suspend your library's lending status" to yes, you will no longer receive any ILL requests. Due to the variability in opening status for schools, colleges, and special libraries, we opted not to automatically update them to active lenders. These libraries can make themselves active lenders by heading to "suspend your library's lending status" and hitting no. I can also update your lending status on your behalf if that is easier.

If you have any questions about SEAL, please send them my way! I can be reached by phone at 845-883-9065 ext. 115 and by email at There is also some additional information on re-starting available on the SEAL libguide.

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065