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LI library reaches out to patrons, just to say hello

The Bryant Library in Roslyn has gone digital,

The Bryant Library in Roslyn has gone digital, and the staff is calling patrons to check in, say "hello," and make them aware of their new online resources. Credit: Melissa Rubin

The physical comfort of a library is gone for now — the rows upon rows of books, the scent of old pages, and of course, the friendly librarians ready to lend a hand.

The Bryant Library in Roslyn has been temporarily closed since March 13, but that hasn't deterred the staff from reaching out to its regulars. Victor Caputo, director of The Bryant Library, says the building has become more than just a library — it’s a community center.

“A lot of patrons come weekly or daily or every few days,” said Caputo, who has overseen the library for 23 years. “The library became a place to gather, have conversations, sit with people and read, do crossword puzzles, all of these little things.”

So Caputo and his staff started reaching out to their patrons in a few ways. They started by calling anyone who frequented the library within the past 60 days, just to check in.

“We have a basic script which starts off with, ‘How is everybody doing?’ Then we let them know we’re online," Caputo said. "But a lot of times they just want to talk to somebody.”

He received such “great feedback” from these phone calls that the library is now expanded to calling patrons from the last 90 days. He added that other libraries, including Seaford Public Library, have taken his lead and are reaching out to their patrons now, too.

The Bryant Library, like others across Long Island, has gone digital — with growing social media platforms, a plethora of online resources and staff on standby ready to assist through screens.

Their online presence is stronger than ever before. Through The Bryant Library's website, patrons can use their library cards to download books, movies, music and audiobooks.

They also have an active Instagram account, which features videos of librarians playing live music, discussing their favorite books, and sharing recipes. “It showcases the talents of our librarians,” Caputo said.

The library launched a weekly series of Instagram videos called “For the Record,” wherein one reference librarian, Wendy Roque, sifts through her expansive vinyl collection and shares the history behind some of her favorite selections. The Instagram account also offers virtual story times for children, plus zumba and yoga classes.

In general, libraries tend to be overlooked, Caputo says, and he feels The Bryant Library will “never be the same again” once all of this is over.

“We will have a strong digital presence from now on,” he said. “It’s going to be very important to us. I can see us doing online story times as well as the ones in person.”

Until then, Caputo says his staff will continue maintaining the library’s virtual resources and activities, and calling families across Long Island just to say “hello.”

“We’re a place for resources, research and books, but we also fit that niche of being a community center,” he said. “The thing that's been kind of neglected now is the social interaction librarians are so good with, and we provide that for people.”

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