Our next guest blog post in response to this request is from Michael Lang, Director, State Library of Kansas, Talking Books Service.
March 16 – March 20: The Scramble
Kansas Talking Books began quarantining incoming items on Monday, March 16th. Our initial procedure was to disinfect all incoming items, scan them into a quarantine shelf, while wearing gloves, and let them sit for seven days. We did this for one week.
On Tuesday, March 17th at 4:00 p.m., Kansas Governor Laura Kelly held a press conference announcing the two week closure of all state offices beginning Saturday the 21st.
We emailed all of our residential facilities and individuals to alert them to our closure and encourage them to order more books and/or sign up for BARD. We identified heavy users and assigned them more books. We encouraged any patrons who called to order extra items. We discussed increasing out nightly cutoff for all patrons but weren’t sure we could get that many books pulled. For the next three days, we pulled twice our daily average. On Friday afternoon, Keystone ran a second round of nightly autoselect, and we did a full second pull.
Regrettably, this left patrons without email addresses and who didn’t call in underserved during, what would become, a four-week period with no outgoing items. Many of our patrons also don’t realize we are part of a state agency and might not have realized the governor’s order to close applied to us. This news was also overshadowed in the same press conference that she announced the closing of all school buildings for the rest of the school year.
March 21- April 5: The Shutdown
For the following two weeks, staff went home with instructions not to work. Our voicemail message started that we would reopen on the 6th. Our mail was delivered as usual to Emporia State University, where we are located, and held in the mailroom separated by date received. During this time, Emporia State University closed all buildings to the public.
I monitored emails and signed patrons up for BARD when possible.
April 6 – April 19: The Reset
State employees were instructed to return to work on April 6th, remotely if possible or on site if not possible but deemed safe, to provide missions essential functions. I returned to work with a skeleton crew of rotating circulation staff. Circulation staff checked in the books and equipment that we received during our two week closure.
RA staff began working from home, accessing their voicemails and returning call from their cells phones using blocked numbers. Eventually, we were able to get 3 of the 4 remote staff’s VOIP office phones hooked up in their homes. They are able to receive and return calls from their office numbers. The fourth person has a work issued cell phone so that she no longer has to call from a blocked/unknown number. RA staff continued to assign and reserve books for patrons during this time. They also encouraged patrons to try to use BARD as uncertainty in our operational status remained.
Additionally, with all campus buildings locked down, the postal service is not delivering to campus. ESU staff pick up the mail on Monday and Thursday. We were informed on April 13th that they would no longer be picking up our books and equipment but will still pick up our paper mail on Mondays and Thursdays. I must go to the post office to pick up our items.
April 20 – Present: Doing the Best that We Can
On April 20th, we began mailing out books and machines. In those first two days, circulation staff prepped and pulled almost 5,000 items and I delivered 56 bags of mail to the post office using my mother-in-law’s Ford Ranger. I am now delivering and picking up mail at the post office daily. We are allowing returned books and machines to sit untouched for at a minimum of four full days in our library before being handled by staff. Monday’s mail is sorted on Friday, Tuesday-Thursday on Monday and Friday’s mail gets sorted on Tuesday. It’s really messing with our daily procedures but we’re making it work.
The State Library has a contract with Splashtop, which provides remote access to desktop computers. During the week of April 20th we were able to get remote staff set up so that they can work on their desktop computers remotely from home. This allows them to access our network drives, networked printers, and some of our audio editing software. RA staff are also prepping for summer reading, cataloging, and editing audio as time allows. They will be working remotely until at least June 1.