The State of Connecticut has awarded the Southbury Public Library $34,133 of the Everybody Learns Initiative State Grant to help the library’s reopening efforts. Governor Ned Lamont’s administration dedicated $2.6 million of Connecticut’s Coronavirus Relief funds to support the state’s public libraries with implementation of health and safety improvements designed to increase services to residents. Southbury was one of 65 libraries chosen to receive this grant.
Upon award of the grant, the First Selectman and Library Board immediately formed a working group of key people. The group quickly decided to focus on two areas: facilitating safe and accessible usage of the library and installing a major improvement to the HVAC system that increases protection of the public and staff from COVID-19.
The Town has finished the improvements to the library and welcomes all residents to visit and utilize the safety enhancements. The library now has acrylic barriers on study tables that allow visitors to sit safely and has installed shields between computer stations. There are also portable dividers to provide protection when the Reference Librarians assist patrons. Library staff are excited to have these wonderful safety additions compliment staff and patrons' continued diligence in mask wearing and social distancing.
The Town has also installed a Global Plasma Solutions system on the library’s five air handlers. The plasma ionization system introduces actively charged ions which attach themselves to particles in the air stream. These small particles then become larger and heavier making them more easily trapped in the filters. This system increases the air filtration effectiveness against COVID-19. The Town hopes that patrons will now feel more comfortable visiting the library. “Everyone is looking for a safe place,” says Shirley Michaels, chair of the Library Board. “Thanks to the recent upgrade to its air handling system, the library is now a safer place to come for our many services, art gallery and book sale.”
The Town hopes these upgrades will have a positive impact on patrons as almost all areas of the library are now accessible and socially distanced. The library staff have already observed changes that make them optimistic for the future. Patrons are now spending an increased amount of time reading, studying and safely tutoring. The Reference Librarians are able to provide computer assistance for longer periods which allows for more meaningful and in-depth exchanges. “The improvements we were able to make with this grant have helped the Town provide enhanced services to the residents of Southbury,” says First Selectman, Jeff Manville. “I hope the Southbury community will embrace these changes and take advantage of all the library has to offer.”