Los Alamos County Library System Director Eileen Sullivan Addresses Rotary Club Members

img_0162-1Los Alamos County Library System director Eileen Sullivan plays traditional Irish music at a 2019 Rotary Club of Los Alamos meeting. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

Rotary Club of Los Alamos

Eileen Sullivan, director of the Los Alamos County Library System, spoke June 23 at the Rotary Club Zoom meeting, describing the procedures that were undertaken as staff responded to the COVID-19 crisis; she then expanded upon plans for recovery, areas to explore, and possible concerns and trends in the future.

Of most immediate interest, plans are now being actively undertaken to re-open both Mesa Public Library and the White Rock branch library. Staff have just begun filling on-hold requests through curbside delivery, with over 790 titles checked out on the first day. This service is available Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. After being notified by email or phone that their holds are ready, patrons are asked to pull into the
main parking lot, call the number posted, and wait until staff calls backs to let them know that their items are ready on the table outside the library’s main entrance. Books are quarantined for 72 hours between circulation.

The library system has also responded by increasing access to digital sources, issuing temporary library cards over the telephone, and providing virtual programming for activities such as storytime hours, book groups, and the Great American Camp-Out. There is a book bingo, and the annual summer reading program, which is
open to all ages, will open registration on June 29. The program lasts for seven weeks, and new software will allow patrons to track their reading. The program’s challenges begin July 6.

In addition to these responses, Sullivan explained that library staff hope to explore future long-term pandemic responses such as circulating books by mail, establishing book kiosks, and developing automated check-in and online registration for library cards Future trends will almost certainly include the continued demand for digital content, the development of contactless services, and creation of virtual programming.

Sullivan also cited library services that are expected to be in high demand as patrons recover from the economic challenges presented during the last four months. These will particularly focus on providing job search assistance, legal resources, online access to government programs, small business support, and mental health and social services support, all with a regard to privacy issues. Successfully bridging the digital divide is also a concern. As all of these topics are addressed, Sullivan emphasized that the libraries’ top priority is to re-open safely to the public.

In closing, Sullivan mentioned that she noticed, but without an official tally, that most books checked out during the crisis have been escapist literature or books on hobbies.

Sullivan has lived in New Mexico since 1987 and became our library director in July 2017 after years of library and telehealth experience in Silver City and Albuquerque. She holds a Masters of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Texas-Austin. In addition to her love of books, Sullivan enjoys cycling, hiking, trail-running and music, especially traditional Irish fiddle, which she plays and teaches.