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Social distancing doesn’t stop Shelter Island Library services

When the first steps were taken to close nonessential businesses to slow the spread of coronavirus, Shelter Island Library Director Terry Lucas sought to adapt new ways to serve the community. For a while, she and her staff were responding to message requests for books and DVDs, organizing packages of materials by genre and delivering them to homes.

“There were requests for mysteries, thrillers, literary fiction, and suitable books for children of different ages,” she said.

Although they have had to discontinue that service, the staff has placed a bookshelf full of free books on the library’s porch. Some have been selected by the staff, grouping related titles together. Seeds from the library’s seed bank are also available. Ms. Lucas said all books were wiped down, but she recommends wiping them down again when you take them home.

The library is part of a consortium under the Suffolk County Library System, which enables it to access far more material than it can store locally. The consortium is providing a vital service during this crisis; it’s gathered 75 3-D printers from all the libraries to assist in making critically needed surgical masks for hospital staff at Stony Brook Hospital.

“We don’t have a 3-D printer,” Ms. Lucas said, “but we’ll find another way to help, maybe buying them an additional printer.”

Shelter Island’s library is far more than a collection of materials. Its computers are used on a regular basis by many Islanders. Although the library’s doors are closed, Ms. Lucas pointed out that internet access is still available 24/7 to anyone who wants to use their own device from the parking lot or outside seating areas.

The library’s wide range of online services and programs have been further expanded, and access is available through the library’s updated website — shelterislandpubliclibrary.org. Anyone with an Island library card can take advantage of these offerings, from genealogy searches to language lessons and much more. If you don’t have a card, you can get a temporary card by using this link: search.livebrary.com/selfreg.

It will enable you to access most library features for 90 days.

Ms. Lucas has also made a few videos for Channel 22 to introduce the community to some of the new programs.

There are numerous programs offered through social media, including streaming opera and story times. The library has 2,200 people on its email list and continues to send email alerts every day or so.

The staff is having regular online meetings using Go to Meeting, which gave them a free subscription to the app.

“We see each other in a Brady Bunch montage on the screen,” she said. Ms. Lucas encouraged the community to do what she herself has learned is necessary: “Turn off the news. You need to stop and breathe.”