Mike WIndsour, circulation manager at the Scarborough Public Library. The library re-opened for the first time since March to walk-in service on Monday. Courtesy / Scarborough Public Library

SCARBOROUGH—The Scarborough Public Library is open to walk-in browsing for the first time since shutting its doors back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the library’s popular annual book sale has been canceled.

“It’s a sad year, but we’ll do it again next year,” Library Director Nancy Crowell said.

The library officially reopened July 13, but like so many reopenings in the area, things are not back to “normal.” Patrons are required to wear masks, and will notice plastic shields installed everywhere. Touch points, such as door handles, countertops, and the bookshelves are being regularly cleaned throughout the day, Crowell said. Returned books are being quarantined for 72 hours before being returned to the shelves. In-person group events, Crowell said, are also not possible yet.

Many online offerings, such as story time, are still available, as well as curbside pickup, Crowell said. The library’s hours, for curbside and walk-in service, are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re not reducing those hours. People are still using both (virtual and in-person services),” she said.

Scarborough Public Library Director Nancy Crowell delivers materials to a patron. The library re-opened to foot traffic on Monday, but online and curbside services are still available. Courtesy / Scarborough Public Library

Kathy Markan, president of Friends of the Scarborough Library, the local nonprofit that runs the book sale, said lingering concerns about the dangers of the coronavirus forced the event to be canceled.

“The decision to cancel was not made lightly,” she said.

Markan said the group has already sorted through about 6,000 donated books, which will have to wait in storage until next year’s sale.

“We’re all disappointed, believe me,” she said.

One of the group’s members, Joyce Clark, who chairs the book sale, said the books will remain stored at the Scarborough Public Works building until next year’s sale, and praised the public works department for volunteering to hold onto the books.

“These are the folks that really help us in terms of storing the books,” she said.

Clark said the sale typically brings in anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000, which the nonprofit then donates to the library.

“It’s a very big moneymaker,” she said.

Crowell said the money funds programs such as the library’s summer reading program which is now underway both online and in person  – and other extras, such as passes to the Portland Museum of Art and the Children’s Museum in Portland, also now available. Any money generated by this year’s sale, however, wouldn’t be used until next year anyway, so the nonprofit is already working to find other ways to support those programs in 2021, Crowell said.

“They have proactively made some significant gifts to the library,” she said, including funding for the summer reading program, the free passes and a $4,000 gift earmarked for the library to expand its collection of print and digital materials.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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