Anchorage Public Library Director Mary Jo Torgeson on navigating COVID-19 while serving the public

Loussac Library’s bright, newly remodeled facade. The library closed its doors during COVID-19, but served customers via online services. Beginning June 4 it began curbside service. What’s next for our public library? When and how will it reopen?

The comfortable, reliable, always available public library took a whacking under COVID-19. The facility closed its doors to the public, while within, employees worked to keep up with user questions and online services.

Anchorage Public Library Director Mary Jo Torgeson

I know. Back in April, I wanted an e-book that was available through Anchorage Public Library. But I struggled with the download. After several tries, I decided to call the library. I left a message; just a few minutes later, I got a call back. A kind person helped me out. Did I know about the web app, Libby, she asked? No need to struggle with that Adobe download. Just open Libby.

Sure enough…I did have Libby on my phone; I’d simply forgotten. I got my e-book and was off and running.

But I miss the library. I miss looking at the New Fiction and New Non-Fiction shelves. I miss sitting down for a while with a pile of books before deciding which ones I really need to take home. I miss seeing the J.K. Rowling quote on the atrium wall: “When in doubt, go to the library.”

There is comfort in a public space like the library. I see teens and toddlers and the elderly. I see people with time on their hands who need a safe and inspiring place to go.

On this week’s Hometown Alaska, Anchorage Public Library Director Mary Jo Torgeson will join me to explain how COVID-19 impacted the library, how the new curbside service will work, and what comes next for the library, one of the few places people from all over Anchorage and from very different backgrounds can come together to find information, recreation, diversion and social services they want and need.

Many questions remain: if the library could reopen with limited capacity, how would it keep track of patrons who can wander all over the large area? How much time could a patron have, since many people come in for long periods of time. How will holds from other institutions work? And what does the loss or adaptation of this public space mean for Anchorage?

As always, your questions and comments are welcome throughout the hour. Please join us!

HOST: Kathleen McCoy

GUESTS:

  • Mary Jo Torgeson, Director, Anchorage Public Library

LINKS

PARTICIPATE:

  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air
  • LIVE: Monday, June 8, 2020 at 2:00 p.m
  • RE-AIR: Monday, June 8, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.
  • PODCAST: at www.alaskapublic.org/hometown for free future public access