The state's new COVID-19 orange microcluster status has limited most Erie County public library locations to WiFi, downloading resources, and ordering books for pick-up at the take-out door.
Only seven local branches of the Buffalo & Erie County Library system are now open for normal operations. Of the 30 other branches, the Library Board Thursday evening closed one -- the East Clinton branch -- and turned the rest into take-out only. The WiFi at all branches will also continue.
"24/7, 365. It certainly is going to stay on," said Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski about the system's WiFi. "It does extend outside of our building and that's a very important factor. We regularly see cars in parking lots and people pulling up to the doors, sitting by the doors, doing whatever they are doing, homework, solitaire or reading a book."
When the library system was forced to close in March, most activities, including processing books and letting patrons borrow them, ended for months. Behind the scenes, however, many staffers kept the WiFi operating because for many students across the county and some businesses, that's their access point to the web.
Jakubowski said this time around, all the staff will be working and they will take phone or web orders. She said the staff are essential to the overall plan working.
"Our staff, in its entirety, will continue to work because we have expanded the services that we will be offering during the orange micr-cluster zone designation," she said, "and we will be having curbside and/or walk-up service at most of those Buffalo branch locations and, of course, at the Central Library."