WESTFIELD-It’s official — the Westfield Athenaeum will fully open its doors on June 21, according to Guy McLain, director.
“This will be really exciting for me to meet our patrons since it has been very hard up until now,” said McLain. McLain was appointed director this past February.
Summer hours beginning June 21 will be 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., on Friday, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.
“We will welcome back patrons six days a week and no appointments will be necessary,” said McLain.
When the pandemic was officially declared in March 2020 and the doors to the Athenaeum were shuttered like countless other businesses and organizations for months, staffers began brainstorming ways to provide services virtually. One of its biggest successes is the Library To Go program.
“Our Library To Go program has been very popular,” said McLain, adding, “We are going to continue to offer Library To Go because it is a great service.”
From books for children and adults to DVD’s and games, McLain noted since July 1, 2020, 58,000 materials have been checked out.
“People like the convenience the quick service that Library To Go provides,” said McLain. “People call us and we have the items ready for them to pick up in a short amount of time.”
Another successful endeavor during the height of the pandemic was the creation of innovative online programming.
“We had to develop the programming and our programs have been so successful that other libraries are turning to us for ideas,” said McLain, adding that an average of 4,000 to 5,000 viewers have taken part each month during the varied online programs.
“We have been able to reach more people online than in the building,” said McLain. “Going forward we will again have programming in the building, and will offer hybrid models so that people can participate in programming online as well.”
With summer in full swing by the time the Athenaeum fully reopens, the Summer Reading Program will also start on June 21.
“A lot of programs are being planned for children and adults,” said McLain, adding that patrons can consult the website – westath.org – for all of the latest details.
Patrons once again entering the building will notice that hand sanitizing stations will be offered at all of the entrances, and plastic shields are in place at the children and adult circulation desks.
As part of other plans for the Athenaeum in the coming months, McLain said the art gallery will reopen for an exhibition in September.
“We have exhibits already booked through next April,” said McLain. “Artists have not been able to exhibit their work for more than a year so artists are very enthusiastic to show art again.”
Another area that McLain is excited about is creating new exhibit cases on the main floor of items from its history museum.
“We anticipate by the end of the year to have new exhibit cases to show the great collection we have,” he said.
As more area residents look forward to getting out and about once again, the Athenaeum is a valuable resource in the community.
“I am excited to see the library be active again,” said McLain. “While this has already been happening with limited hours, I think as people become vaccinated they will be excited to see people and be back in the building.”