Library Update from Our Interim Director

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

To our patrons and the Kansas City community:

I hope this finds you safe and well and beginning to return to at least some of the regularities of life. And I hope – I trust – that you and your loved ones have been able to turn to the Kansas City Public Library to help navigate these anxious and unprecedented times.

I am immensely gratified by how you have stood with us as a community over the past eight weeks, leaning more than ever on our digital resources and joining in our online children’s storytimes, signature programming, and other activities while our physical locations have been closed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of you have reached out to express your support.

Thank you so very much. It has never felt more important to be your Library.

There was no how-to handbook for this experience. Not for you. Not for the Library. But we’ve held fast to one guiding principle: The health and protection of our patrons and staff are our top priority, and remain so as we weigh a careful return to serving our community in a wider capacity.

That begins Tuesday, May 19, 2020, when the Library initiates a phased-in reopening of its physical locations. Operations and services will be limited at that early point, allowing patrons to pick up holds at five locations – the downtown   Central Library and Bluford, Plaza, Trails West, and Waldo branches – for limited hours on specific days. Pickups will be extended to the North-East, Southeast, Sugar Creek, Ruiz, and Westport branches in the coming weeks.

We’ll build on that as quickly as possible, understanding the reliance of many of our patrons on the computers, broadband access, technology assistance, and other services that make the Library so essential. But anxious as we are – and know that you are, too – we will remain cautious and deliberate. We’ll be informed by city, county, and state health guidelines, including Kansas City’s 10/10/10 rule on customer capacity.

In the meantime, of course, you still can take advantage of the Library’s extensive menu of digital resources. And we are working with our community partners on other vital services, such as our collaboration with Connecting for Good and Kansas City Public Schools on distributing computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, headphones and Turn the Page KC activity packets to KCPS families lacking internet access.

As the Library’s leadership team and board of trustees work through next steps in the days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue to share them with you. Again, our emphasis will be safety and caution. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

This upcoming first step – making holds available for pickup at selected Library locations – might seem like a small one. But it is doors reopening. It’s books and other checkouts back in your hands.

It’s an important win. We look forward to more.

Debbie Siragusa, Interim Chief Executive, Kansas City Public Library