FAQ – How the library continues to serve our community during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Desert poppies
desert poppies

A couple of our library board members were at the Friday boardwalk sale in Sunsites recently, promoting our upcoming Holiday Bazaar and working on our annual membership drive. While they were there, several residents asked about when the library would be open again and questioned the value of membership or a donation.

We know many members of our community are frustrated by the restrictions that the global pandemic has put on their lives and how it has affected their normal enjoyment of our local library. With this FAQ article, we’ll try to respond to some of the questions and concerns they’ve raised.

Why is the library still closed?

The library is not closed. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Branch Manager Sharon Arthur, the library offers many curbside services. While the building itself may be closed to browsing the stacks and accessing the computer workstations, the library is still loaning books, lending laptops for use on-premises, and offering WiFi access. The library continues to perform its primary function of making free literature and information available to our community.

Sharon responds to hundreds of patron requests each month. For safety, she must quarantine and sanitize every book, DVD, and other physical material that is loaned to patrons. All of that work must be performed without the help of the library volunteers who would normally assist. We appreciate her hard work and dedication to continue serving our patrons under such difficult circumstances.

In addition to curbside services, the Friends of the Pearce-Sunsites Community Library, Inc. (“Friends”) reopened the book store to patrons some time ago. We limit the number of patrons who can be in the building at one time and require masks, but otherwise we are keeping our regular hours.

Who are these “Friends” you’re talking about?

The Friends of the Pearce-Sunsites Community Library, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that was created specifically for the purpose of bringing a library to our community. The Friends own the land and the buildings. They pay the bills that maintain the grounds and keep the lights on. Without the Friends, Sunsites might not have a library. When you make a donation or pay membership dues, it’s the Friends you are supporting.

The Cochise County Library District (“District”) operates the library. The District provides the books, shelves, and services that make the facility a vital resource instead of a lovely empty building. The District provides a branch manager and pays her salary. The District decides library policies regarding patron conduct, computer use, and wireless use. The District also decides when it is safe to reopen the library.

The partnership between the District and the Friends has made it possible for the Pearce-Sunsites community to enjoy what many have described as “a wonderful resource that is the heart of our community.”

Why should I donate if I can’t even go in the building?

Even if you don’t want to take advantage of the many curbside services the library continues to offer, we hope that you will think beyond your frustrations of today and look forward to the time when the library returns to full operation. The library has served this community for nearly forty years and we expect it to continue doing so for many more.

No one wants to keep the library closed, but the alternative is to open it up and contribute to the spread of COVID-19. The District has wisely chosen to avoid that alternative. The District is closely monitoring the current status of the pandemic and will begin a phased reopening of the building as soon as it is safe to do so. We would love to be able to tell you exactly when that will be, but the truth is that no one can possibly know at this point in time.

In the meantime, the reality is that the Friends have to continue paying the bills so there will be a library to reopen. We receive no monetary support from the County or any other governmental agency. The Friends depend completely on the goodwill of the community in the form of donations, memberships, bookstore sales, and the proceeds from our fundraising events. Every penny of that money goes to sustaining the buildings and the grounds. The board members and bookstore clerks all volunteer their time.

If you value our community library, or you have ever valued our library, please consider helping us keep it going through these trying times. Every dollar helps.

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