“hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.”

— Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B”

In-person interaction feels like a more precious commodity these days. The past several months have definitely limited our society’s options for connection and the lifelong learning that make life worthwhile.

We all agree that nothing is the same: not school, not work, not social occasions. Some have remarked that, lacking the face-to-face contact, it’s harder to remember that there are real humans behind the screens and masks; that our actions have real consequences for others. Nevertheless, we persist in finding the best ways possible, doing what we can, and I still believe that, given a chance, decency and the noblest parts of our humanity will prevail.

Particularly encouraging is the prevalence of so many gatherings, discussion groups, book talks and other events going on around our community. Some are virtual; others gather in small numbers in open-air spaces. Either way, it’s all about connecting with other human beings about something meaningful.

I have appreciated reading Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” as part of the REAL Schools group discussion this past week. Later this fall, Rev. Becca Girrell of the UCC Church and we from MCL will join with other community partners to explore the Vermont Reads 2021 book, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. Let us know if you are interested in joining us.

Thanks and a smile to all who contributed their fabulous one-line plot summaries to our The Plot Thickens prize drawing event at summer’s end. A respectable 39 entries and two happy winners later, we wonder if you might like to continue the activity? You keep sending your recent-read one-liners (title, author, a sentence about what it’s about) to info@centennial library.org, ATTN: The Plot Thickens, and if we get enough to say so, we will post them on our website and hold monthly prize drawings for gift certificates to favorite local businesses. Sound good? Then keep them coming.

Parents of preschoolers, plenty of fall fun is to be had at our Outdoor Story Times, every fair-weather Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Books, songs, crafts and other activities abound. Sign up at youthservices@centenniallibrary.org or call 888-3853. We are capping the number at eight people per story time, so everyone can social distance safely. Everyone who attends is required to wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet.

For teens, the Teen Advisory Board is meeting either outside or via Zoom, weather-dependent, on select Thursdays at 3 p.m.; email Rachel for details. The next Zoom meeting of the Anime and Manga Club will be held Thursday, Oct. 15 and every second Thursday of each month at 3 p.m. Try it, it’s fun; just call us at 888-3853 and ask for Rachel, or contact us at youthservices@centenniallibrary.org for the links and other information.

Speaking of fun, do you folks out there have any outdoor anecdotes, or are any of you noticing some cool nature phenomena on your hikes and trail walks? Would you be willing to share your experience via written paragraph, photos, or in a short YouTube post? It might be another way to connect with each other as we admire fall foliage and observe the frolics of the animal kingdom in cooler weather.

We know that there are a lot of local naturalists and wildlife experts in our community, and we would love to hear from you and share your stories, if we may. I’m (almost) sorry that I don’t have video clips for any of these incidents, but to get the ball rolling on what I hope will be a community nature journal post or page, here is my contribution, gleaned over the past few years: The Librarian’s Lived Experience Nature Lessons: 1. Skunks prefer not to be surprised. 2. If you leave your clothespin basket on the floor of the woodshed, it will become a teaching tool for Mother Raccoon and her kits. So will your spool of garden twine. 3. Ruminants and chickens like cucumbers … a lot … so if you bring any from the garden into the pasture, expect to be mugged. 4. Ground wasps prefer that you refrain from running over their nests with a lawn mower. I currently bear several marks of their displeasure. See? You can do better than that.

Now to address the big question on all library-goers’ minds: reopening. We libraries — categorized with museums and art galleries, and more like schools in terms of physical proximity within indoor spaces — are proceeding with the next steps of our phased reopening plans. We are happy to announce that we will welcome our patrons back to the Morristown Centennial Library, in a limited-number, limited-time format, on Thursday, Oct. 1.

How it will work: The board of trustees has agreed to open the library to the public by 30-minute appointments, for either browsing or computer use on alternating days, with a total of five people allowed per floor. Masks and social distancing will be required.

Patrons ages 14 and up may make independent individual appointments; a parent or adult guardian may make an appointment for themselves and up to four children under the age of 14 or this stage of opening. To reserve a 30-minute slot for either purpose, email us at info@centenniallibrary.org with your name, the date requested (check the schedule below for computer use or browsing, and specify adult or youth services for browsing), and a couple of time slots which would work for you, or call 888-3853 to schedule an appointment directly with library staff.

At the door, each person will be asked the standard Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health survey questions. If you are masked and cleared to enter, you will be given a time ticket and will be welcome to proceed to your designated area of the library. We are using the interim closures to clean and sanitize. During this phase, no food or drink will be allowed in the library. The schedule for reopening phase 2 is as follows.

The library will be available for computer use appointments:

  • Saturdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

The library will be available for browsing appointments:

  • Wednesdays, 3 p.m.-5 p.m.
  • Thursdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.-5 p.m.
  • Fridays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.-5 p.m.

Telephone service hours will be expanded to be the same as appointment hours; curbside service will also continue, as described: Curbside Service: Tuesday, Wednesday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Thursday, Friday: 12 p.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Gizelle Guyette is director of Morristown Centennial Library.

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