Sunderland Public Library holds outdoor Browsing Day

  • Siblings Jack and Sadie Sullivan read a book together at Sunderland Public Library’s Browsing Day on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Jane Howard checks out books for a family at Sunderland Public Library’s Browsing Day on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

  • Jo Sullivan and her 11-year-old daughter, Sadie, browse books outside Sunderland Public Library on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2020 11:03:50 AM

SUNDERLAND — After launching a curbside pickup program and opening the library doors to patrons for brief computer appointments, Katherine Hand, director of the Sunderland Public Library, still felt as though she could do more.

“We felt we were meeting most needs,” Hand said. “But what we’re not meeting is the ability to browse our books. People can call us; we can make recommendations. They can place orders online, but there’s no way for people to see what we have to offer.”

Hand said she thought a safe way to offer that experience would be if they could do it in an outdoor setting. So, with the help of some grant funding, she purchased a tent and planned two Saturdays during which patrons could come by and browse a selection of books.

“We can’t do it every day … but we’re really excited about being able to offer it in a small way,” she said.

For the first hour of the day on Saturday, a steady stream of families — most of whom were regular library patrons — stopped by the tent in the back of the library. For the first time since the library closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had a selection of books, DVDs and audiobooks to look through.

Sanitizer was available, and whenever a book was touched by a patron, it was placed in a red bin at the check-out counter, which let staff know it needed to be sanitized before being re-shelved.

“They’re all super excited to browse again,” said Jane Howard, who works part-time at the library and helped patrons check out books on Saturday. “Browsing (books) is what a library is all about.”

Two of those excited patrons on Saturday afternoon were Sadie and Jack Sullivan.

“I forget the last time I was here,” said Jack, 9, as he turned the pages of a book in his lap, “Inside the World of Roblox.”

His sister, Sadie, 11, held three books in her hand, all of which she planned to take home.

“I’ve been really looking forward to going back to the library,” Sadie said.

Sadie and her mother, Jo Sullivan, have volunteered at the library for about six weeks, Sadie said, sanitizing books before they are checked out by patrons.

“We love it here,” Jo Sullivan said. “We will definitely be back.”

The next Browsing Day will be Oct. 3, from noon to 4 p.m.

“We wanted to see how these two weeks go,” Hand said of the initial two Browsing Days, “and then see if it’s something we can continue.”


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