About Us

Our COVID-19 Response

May 2, 2020

This is the text of the video message from Head Librarian Carolyn Waters for our May newsletter. The video can be found here.

Hello again. It’s been 5 weeks since I last spoke with you, and 7 since we closed the Library building. I hope you are all safe and healthy, and finding inspiring ways to occupy yourself while we all shelter in place. The staff and I have been busy running the Library remotely – and I hope that you’ve taken advantage of some of our virtual offerings – by reading an e-book or a digital magazine, participating in a workshop or reading seminar, watching a lecture, or even hanging out with your fellow members at digital teatime. Peri and Simen in our Cataloging Department have designed a very fun New York Society Library Bingo game to help you pass the time. I hope you’ll check it out on our website.

We still don’t know when we will be able to reopen the building. We are waiting for further guidance from state and local authorities. But we are making plans for our return and I want to stress that things will be different. We think that the best way to begin bringing back in-person services and to ensure the health and safety of our staff and members, is to phase in services and programs over time. For instance, accommodating only curb-side book checkout and returns and local delivery and pickups in phase 1, introducing lobby and stacks access in phase 2, and then limited access to reading and study spaces after that.

These initial plans could change, but we are actively working on our various options and details for every phase of our reopening so we will be ready to go. In the meantime, due dates have been extended, fines are being waived, and when you renew, we will be extending your membership. We continue to add events, so read the e-news and follow us on social media. And Acquisitions is keeping up with new book releases, so check out the new books list and add titles to your holds list for when we reopen.

I’ve heard it said on a number of occasions, how unprecedented this time is. But the Library is 266 years old, and this is our 4th closing for circumstances outside our control. You all know about the American Revolution, but what about the 1803 yellow fever epidemic, or the closing due to a coal shortage during WWI? So, as an institution, we’ve been through hard times before, and we will survive.  But we do need your help. The closing has already had a sharp, negative impact our bottom line. So I’d like to ask you to please renew your membership when it expires, and if you can, consider supporting the Library with a donation. Every bit helps.

Please email help@nysoclib.org if you need any online assistance. And I’ll continue to keep you updated on our plans for our reopening. We are all anxious to get back to 53 East 79th Street. In the meantime, please feel free to email me at cwaters@nysoclib.org with any questions or comments. Please stay safe. We’ll see you soon.

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March 31, 2020 

This is the text of the video message from Head Librarian Carolyn Waters for our April newsletter. The video can be found here

Hello, everyone. As you may have suspected, I’m recording this message from my home office, where I’ve been keeping in touch with the Library staff as well as with many of you for the past two weeks. I want you to know that we all miss you terribly and we can’t wait till the day we are able to reopen.

At this time, the Library building remains closed indefinitely while we wait for further information and guidance from government authorities. But the virtual New York Society Library is open for business. The staff and I have been working hard to ensure your continued access to services and programs while adding new ways to deliver them.

Sara, Katie, and Marialuisa in Events have had to cancel some events and postpone others to future dates. But we are also moving many online via the Zoom platform. If you were already registered for events, they will be in touch soon to discuss the options. I hope you’ll join us for a special version of Teatime on Friday, April 3 at 3pm on Zoom. And no worries if you’re unfamiliar with Zoom – we are here to help you.

On the books side, Steve and Patrick are still busy buying books, including adding new e-books to the Cloud Library, so I encourage you to check that out. Our virtual Library also includes digital magazines like Condé Nast Traveler, Film Comment, and The Spectator, as well as a whole host of electronic databases.

If you’re looking to read about books or other topics of interest to Library members, visit our blog on our website or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

For those of you concerned about overdue books: don’t be! Mia and her Circulation team have extended the due date for all books to April 13. If necessary, that will be extended further, and we’ll be waiving all fines during this period.

And I want to let you know that when you renew your membership, Diane will be extending your expiration date for the amount of time that the Library remains closed, however long that turns out to be. This extension will affect all renewals from March 16, 2020 to March 15, 2021.

But we do need your help. Please consider supporting the Library with a donation, if you can. And please do renew your membership when it expires. We won’t be able to send renewal notices at this time, but you can check your status, renew, and make donations online – AND you’ll be able to continue to use all of our wonderful online resources.

Please feel free to email help@nysoclib.org if you need any online assistance, or email me directly with any questions or comments. Please stay safe. We’re all looking forward to seeing you soon.

Carolyn

Carolyn Waters
Head Librarian
cwaters@nysoclib.org

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March  20, 2020

Dear Members,

I promised to keep you informed if and when I had further news to share. 

I have just learned that one of our members who spent time in the Library has been diagnosed with COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus. The member, who attended a writing group meeting in the Little Whitridge Room (“Little Whit”) on February 26, is being treated.

The other Library members who were in direct contact with this member have already been notified. No other members or staff have reported that they are experiencing any symptoms. The building is already undergoing cleaning and disinfecting this week, which had previously been planned to occur during our closure.

As a reminder, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, immediately contact your primary care physician and please also notify me if you had spent any time at the Library. More information can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Stay well,
Carolyn

Carolyn Waters
Head Librarian
cwaters@nysoclib.org

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March 16, 2020, 9:00 AM

Dear Members,

By now, you know: the Library is closed today through Tuesday, March 31. Could it be longer? Yes. Please continue to check our website and social media for updates. We will also be in touch by email when we have further news. Just a note that as of 3/16, our phone lines are down.

In the meantime, we encourage you to investigate all you can do remotely. Our Electronic Resources page is full of information about how to access e-books, audiobooks, digital magazines, and reference  materials. Our Events Department has archived all of our past event recordings here. If you need any assistance accessing our online resources, please email help@nysoclib.org.

Please feel free to be in touch with me directly. Stay safe, stay healthy! We look forward to seeing you soon.

best,
Carolyn

Carolyn Waters
Head Librarian
cwaters@nysoclib.org
212-288-6900 x244

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March 13, 2020, 3:30 PM

Dear Members,

Having gotten used to getting only one email a month from us, getting three in one week (two in one day!) must be disorienting. But these are strange times.

Like most of our fellow libraries and institutions, we have just made the difficult decision to close the Library entirely to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Library will be closed from Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31. 

We will remain open our usual hours this weekend, 11 AM - 5 PM, so that you may come in and check out books. We know what a balm a good book can be, and want to make sure you can stock up for the weeks we will be closed. However, please note that only the stacks will be accessible; the reading and writing spaces will be closed.  

We are sure you will agree that this is the right thing to do to ensure the health and safety of our community. If you have any questions, please do let me know. And I look forward to hearing what books kept you company in the weeks ahead.   

Best,
Carolyn

Carolyn Waters
Head Librarian
cwaters@nysoclib.org
212-288-6900 x244

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March 13, 2020, 10 AM

Dear Members,

I wrote to you just a few days ago - but what a few days it's been. I want to keep you updated on our continuing response to COVID-19.

For at least the next month, all of our planned events have been canceled or postponed to a later date.

Our hours for the next two weeks, beginning on Monday, March 16, will be amended as follows in order to allow our staff to commute on less crowded trains and buses: Monday & Friday 10 AM - 4 PM, Tuesday - Thursday 10 AM - 8 PM, Saturday & Sunday 11 AM - 5 PM.

We have removed half of the chairs in the Hornblower Room and additional chairs in the Whitridge Room and Little Whit in order to provide appropriate social distancing. The desks in the stacks remain a viable option. We will be monitoring the occupancy of the Members' Room frequently.

We are continuing our cleaning protocol to wipe down high-touch surfaces several times a day, and we have provided disposable wipes throughout the building. I urge you to follow the guidelines from health authorities and wash your hands frequently, don't touch your face, monitor your health more closely, and please, stay home if you are sick or not feeling well.

Please continue to check our website for updates, as we may make further changes to our operating schedule or plans, as needed. But remember, you don't need to visit our building to make use of all of our great resources: download an e-book, read a digital magazine, do research, view a recording of one of our past events!  As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or concerns.

Best,
Carolyn

Carolyn Waters
Head Librarian
cwaters@nysoclib.org
212-288-6900 x244

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March 9, 2020

Dear Members,

No doubt you are following the news of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as carefully as we are. To keep everyone safe, we want to update you on what measures we are taking to ensure the continued health of our staff, members, and visitors.

We will remain open during regular hours and all events will go on as planned. We are increasing the frequency of cleaning in the building, especially the high-touch areas, and have provided disposable wipes throughout. We also ask everyone to please follow the guidelines from the NYC Health Department for protecting yourself and others from spreading respiratory illnesses, like the flu and coronavirus. Most importantly, please stay home if you’re sick or feeling unwell!

We will continue to monitor the news and recommendations from local, state and federal authorities, and will make decisions and communicate to everyone as the situation evolves. We encourage you to check our website for updates. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.

…and while I have your attention, just a reminder that our sidewalk replacement project will begin in the next day or so and take approximately one week. While we will remain open throughout, please be prepared for noise and some disruption.

Stay healthy!

Carolyn Waters
Head Librarian
212-288-6900 x244

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