Buffalo & Erie County libraries closed until March 31

Mar 17, 2020

The good news is that it won't cost you any more if you return a book to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library even later. The bad news is that you can't return the book, because the system is closed until March 31.

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News

A combination of pressure from various levels of government and COVID-19 means the libraries have closed. There are a lot of issues in that and Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said the system is working through all of them, like pay for workers.

"Approximately 25,000 people will come through our doors on any given day and it varies," she said. "Different days are different than others, but we know that we have a lot of foot traffic. We're talking about 37 locations here and right now I have the authority to close the Central Library and the Buffalo branches."

Closing the system is complicated because only Buffalo libraries are directly under the library board, while suburban libraries have a variety of different management systems. Jakubowski said she recognizes the effect of closings on school kids who need computer access for lessons.

"We also have free high-speed WiFi that is accessible right outside our doors," she said. "So we make a point of having some hot zones outside our buildings and we know that people will continue to utilize them. Our goal is, of course, to keep those running."

The board of the NIOGA library system, which covers Niagara, Orleans and Genesee Counties, meets Wednesday and is expected to close that system. Its schedule closes the libraries on Mondays and Tuesdays anyway.