A Note from the Director: Committing to Action

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Authored on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 at 6:08pm, updated July 15 at 6:09pm
Because our current health crisis is disproportionately affecting People of Color and working poor people, and given our present national reckoning with systemic racism, implicit biases, and unearned privileges, we are recommitting to fostering racial justice, socioeconomic inclusion, and human dignity by committing to undertake a review of policies, procedures, and practices in order to identify and eliminate barriers to service. Library Director, Ike Pulver, announces the first policy updates resulting from this process.

At Saratoga Springs Public Library, we have always prided ourselves on being a safe and welcoming place for everyone, and on providing services to our entire community.  We continue to hold those values as central to our operation, and aspire to be of service to all our residents. Just as in-person library services were put on pause because of the pandemic, we were in the beginning stages of gathering information from the community for our next round of strategic planning, with a focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion. The events of the past several months have convinced us that that work is more important than ever, and that achieving these aspirations requires decisive action.

Because our current health crisis is disproportionately affecting People of Color and working poor people, and given our present national reckoning with systemic racism, implicit biases, and unearned privileges, we are recommitting to fostering racial justice, socioeconomic inclusion, and human dignity by committing to undertake a review of policies, procedures, and practices in order to identify and eliminate barriers to service. To that end, at its regular meeting on July 13th, the Board of Trustees of the Saratoga Springs Public Library adopted a Racial and Social Justice Policy, and our policy review has begun.

The first policy change resulting from this review process is that, at that same meeting, the Board voted unanimously to, effective July 1, 2020, eliminate overdue fines. Meant as an incentive for borrowers to return library materials on time, so that they may be shared with others, there is growing sentiment that overdue fines may discourage library use by the very people who may benefit the most from our services.

Within the next several weeks, we hope to restart our paused planning process, and will be reaching out for input from you about your aspirations for our community, and imagining how the library can help to achieve them. We anticipate many thought-provoking conversations over the next several months, and remain grateful for your support.

Regarding our re-opening plan, we are currently on Phase 3, and are strategizing how we can provide more access to library resources in the near future. While we continue to be cautious, particularly as Covid-19 cases spike across the country, we are eager to advance to our next phases. Additional reopening steps may be delayed because of required work to repair a section of the library floor damaged by a fire caused by a faulty acetylene torch used by a contractor during our closure. We will keep you posted with updates, as we have information to share.

In the meantime, we are still offering contact-free pick-up of holds, by appointment, and continue to provide reference and readers’ advisory service via phone, e-mail, and chat, and programs via Zoom and our social media channels.

Wishing you wellness,

Ike Pulver, Library Director