A letter from Matt: Our Response to COVID-19

I hope that you and your family are safe and healthy. As March comes to a close, I would like to provide an update on the Millinocket Memorial Library. Two weeks ago, we made the unprecedented decision to close the library to the public through March 27th. At that time, there were no cases of coronavirus reported in Maine, but it was clear that if we took decisive actions early, we could slow the spread here in the Katahdin region. As events have unfolded, I feel reassured in that decision, and as we try to navigate these uncertain times, the health of our staff, patrons, and broader community continues to be the highest priority.

We have decided to follow the direction of the Millinocket Schools and close the library through April 27th. When we made the decision to close in March it was very difficult, but at this point there are more clear guidelines from the state and federal CDC to support this decision. The priority now is to flatten the curve and slow the spread as much as possible.

Some of you have asked how COVID-19 has impacted construction at 5 Maine Ave. At this point, it has been the decision of construction managers Nickerson & O’Day to continue work, incorporating new protocols to comply with OSHA regulations and CDC recommendations. Progress continues, albeit with more virtual construction meetings than before. We have seen some supply chain disruptions which have impacted the project, in terms of both availability of material and schedule, but it is not completely clear how significant this impact will be. At this point, we are still aiming for a substantial completion date by the end of April and a certificate of occupancy in May.

Although we have had to cancel many library services, I am proud to share that this past Monday we helped launch Mobilize Katahdin, a community response to COVID-19. Mobilize Katahdin is a coalition of partners providing vital services to people in need during this unprecedented time. We do this by coordinating and training volunteers, building an emergency fund to support those that need assistance, and working with partners across the region to provide basic services to those in need. Last week, we opened a phone line, launched a website, and hired a grant-funded Resource Navigator. So far we have served over 50 individuals, received 22 volunteer applications, and have grown our coalition to include a dozen partners in the region. Help us spread the word about Mobilize Katahdin by sharing our website, Facebook page, posters, and phone number (207-370-1581) with your networks.

While we are all eager to return to a more predictable and normal way of life, I am heartened to hear stories of compassion and caring throughout our community and I am using this time to reflect, connect, and check in with friends, family, and loved ones. Although the library building will remain closed through April 27, there are still ways to connect with us and stay involved. I encourage you to check out CloudLibrary, where you can use your library card to download ebooks and audiobooks for free from home. You will notice that our collection has grown significantly in the past weeks, as libraries around the state redirect some of their print collection budget to our shared digital collection.

During this time:
1. We have reconfigured our Wifi equipment so that you can access our internet from the safety of their cars in our parking lot.
The network name is: Millinocket Memorial Library
The password is: mmlwifi2019
2. We will continue to be available by email (info@millinocketmemoriallibrary.org) and phone via a temporary phone number (314-635-0360) on Mondays-Fridays, 10am-5pm.

Please also check out mobilizekatahdin.org, where you can request help, sign up to volunteer, or contribute to an emergency response fund for those in need. Above all, take care of yourself and each other during these uncertain times. If you are like me, when you take your focus off of the dire news around the world, you will begin noticing incredible acts of kindness and generosity all around you.

Stay safe and be well.

Matt DeLaney
Library Director