Libraries close in Northampton, Easthampton, Westhampton, Belchertown

  • In Northampton, Forbes Library’s trustees decided Friday not to reopen the library Monday.

Staff Writer
Published: 3/14/2020 1:52:16 PM

WESTHAMPTON — A number of libraries in Hampshire County have closed due to concerns about the new coronavirus.

The trustees of Westhampton Public Library met Thursday and voted to close the library through March 21. The closing was later extended through March 30.

Meaghan Schwelm, director of the library, said that decision was made out of an abundance of caution, “for the health and safety of staff and patrons.”

Westhampton is an aging community with many residents in high-risk categories, Schwelm said, but she expressed sadness over having to close, noting that people are already socially isolated as it is.

“I think it’s a real loss for the community,” she said.

The trustees at Northampton’s Forbes Library decided Friday to not reopen the library Monday. Lisa Downing, the director at Forbes, said the hope is to reopen March 30.

“This is not a decision that our board took lightly,” Downing said. “We’re hoping that it’s just two weeks.”

Most library workers will continue to work on-site during the closed period, she said, and they will be able to respond to patrons’ questions via phone and email. She also noted that e-books and streaming are available through the library’s website and that tech support will be available for people trying to access those services.

Clapp Memorial Library in Belchertown decided to close early Friday after a vote from its board. It will be closed at least through March 28. However, its director, Sheila McCormick, said that staff would continue working in the building during regular hours, and that no holds will be returned and no fines accumulated during this time.

“We’re trying to keep things going during this unusual period,” she said.

McCormick also noted the presence of e-books and streaming through her library.

The Emily Williston Memorial Library in Easthampton also announced Friday that it would be closed from March 16 through March 28.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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