BY BEN VERDE
The Brooklyn Public Library will immediately close all 60 branches as concerns over the novel coronavirus grow throughout the city, where Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency on March 12 as the number of confirmed infections surpasses 450.
The book-lender had previously canceled all public events, but had kept their branches open to the public until Sunday, when they opted to shutter their physical branches and offer online material through their website.
“While the physical branches are closed, Brooklyn Public Library is working quickly to add to our already extensive digital offerings which include online newspapers, video story times, e-books and magazines, language lessons and much more,” said spokeswoman Katie Groenke in a statement.
Library leaders made the decision to close just one day after the New York Public Library announced that it would be halting operations throughout Manhattan and the Bronx — and hours before the mayor closed all public schools and “non-essential” businesses.
The Brooklyn book-repository branches will be closed until at least the end of the month, and any outstanding books with due dates before then will be automatically extended to April 6 to prevent fines, said Groenke.
Elected officials heralded the system for making the right choice to practice “social distancing” as the extremely contagious virus makes its way across Kings County and the five boroughs.
“Always sorry to see libraries closed, but this is the right call,” tweeted Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander. “[The library] provides many essential services, broadband and information and books and warmth. But as wonderful as they are, our librarians aren’t health care professionals or first responders. Thanks BPL for listening.”
For those still looking to bury their nose in a book while they wait out isolation, the book-lender has released a reading list of titles related to all things contagion — which includes books for tots such as “Don’t Lick this Book” and relevant historic titles like “Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918.”
This story first appeared on brooklynpaper.com.