By Luke Canavan
FRAMINGHAM – Although physically closed to the public since March 2020 when the pandemic began, the Framingham Public Library has managed to continue its operations by relying heavily on online services and curbside pickup, according to its director.
“We had a whole workflow plan [and] virtual storytime all ready to go,” said Framingham Public Library Director Lena Kilburn. “We started right away with virtual programming and figuring out ways to connect with the community.”
In the past year, the Framingham Public Library has circulated almost 100,000 physical items and more than 77,000 digital items, for a community of about 74,000 individuals.
The library offers a curbside service, where people can book an appointment online or call in via phone to reserve their desired item. They can then pick up their item at the time of their appointment.
A system has also been developed for senior citizens or anyone who is unable to physically go to the library that allows the library to bring the items to them.
“We’re working with activitiy coordinators in senior housing,” said Kilburn. “Carmel Terrace, Brookdale, and Shillman House… Those three are the main senior communities that we deliver to. Plus, we’re also making deliveries to different apartment complexes throughout the city.”
“As far as homebound patrons or folks who need assistance that way, we do that as well. If someone calls and says they can’t get to the library and they need library services, we will make that happen for them,” said Kilburn.
Items can be returned via the book drop-offs, which are functioning as usual. Once an item is returned, the library quarantines the item to ensure there is no spread of germs between users.
The library also offers a new service called book bundles, where staff will compile a bundle of items for you depending on your interests.
“There’s a Google form on our website that you can fill out. We ask you a few basic questions and then we put together a book bundle for you based on your answers,” said Kilburn. “It’s a really cool way to just discover new materials… We’ll even put movies or music in there if you like.”
As it stands right now, the Framingham Public Library aims to resume in-person browsing by April of this year, as well as to allow full access to the buildings by July, explained the director.
“Our staff is in the building working hard to serve the community. We have been since day one of this crisis, and we’ve done it in really creative ways and in ways that are in partnership with our city departments and other community organizations. That’s just what we do at the Framingham Public Library, and we will continue to do that,” said Kilburn. “We look forward so much to the time we can fully open up the doors and let people in, and that time is coming soon, but until then we are here, we’re working, [and] we’re here to serve you.”
Luke Canavan is a spring 2021 SOURCE intern. He is currently a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studies Communication and English. He is passionate about film, television, writing, and literature, and upon graduation, he hopes to work in the entertainment industry full-time, where he can pursue his love for storytelling.