Scott Jarzombek fell in love with libraries when he was a kid. And having them closed for the last five months has been hard.
"My public library was my hang out spot," said Jarzombek, the executive director of the Albany Public Library. "It's why I got into libraries. Right now it's really difficult for me and my staff and the leadership of this organization because the Albany Public Library is really about being a community space."
Libraries were among the many public gathering places that were closed down in March. But now some library officials are concerned there's no full plan from the state for
Jarzombek is frustrated the guidance from the state for reopening libraries across New York has not been clear or uniform.
"Public libraries across the state have not been provided any real guidance on how to reopen," he said. "We have been working in teams, we have been finding other directors to communicate with, but really there hasn't been an overall state guidance."
The library has two branches open for curbside pickup. Librarians are quarantining returned books before going back on the shelves. Reopening the buildings themselves is part of a multi-phased approach that's largely being decided by library officials on the local level.
"It's a disappointment not to have that kind of statewide guidance on how these important institutions can reopen and reopen safely," Jarzombek said.
Libraries are still offering virtual services, like e-books and reading sessions online for kids. But the public space that libraries have come to be used for -- a spot for kids to do their homework, bookworms to get lost in a novel -- remains unused during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The support from the public has been tremendous," he said. "They know we're educated, we're researchers, and we're using data to make decision."
The Albany Public Library as well as libraries across the state plan to continue offering online programs -- especially for kids.