Thursday, March 18, 2021

COVID Community Center


3/16/21 Northgate library and community center

After picking up some books at the Northgate branch library and going back to my car, I noticed that the adjacent community center was being used as a COVID testing site. The playground, also part of the complex, was cordoned off, and the entire walkway leading up to the various entrances was ribboned. It was empty the day I was there, but maybe on busy weekends the ribbons are necessary to manage snaking lines of people waiting six feet apart. Nearby, a child jumped around on a bench because he couldn’t use the playground, of course.

I thought sadly about how the community center is normally a fun, welcoming place for classes, meetings and activities. Every Halloween, the center used to sponsor a free pumpkin carving party that was fun to sketch, and I’ve sketched the playground, too.

The bright yellow ribbons and neon orange stanchions had a forboding, unwelcoming presence, like a hazardous construction site. Danger. Caution. Keep Out.

On the bright side, the Greenwood branch used to be the closest library branch offering curbside-pickup service, but recently the much closer Northgate branch opened for curbside, so now I can go there. The service is about as contact-free as any I have used: When I approached the friendly library staff person behind the plexi window, he pushed a tiny plastic basket through the slot at the bottom. I dropped my library card into the basket, he pulled it back to scan the card, and a moment later he returned with the books I’d placed on hold. All library materials are quarantined for 48 hours before being lent to other patrons. The library website lists all the protocols staff members follow to ensure patrons’ safety and their own. It was all very reassuring.

It will probably be a while yet before the library opens again for “normal” use, but until then, I’m grateful that I can continue to borrow books safely.

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