Are libraries closing? Rovigo librarians launch an idea: "takeaway books"

How to cope with library closures? Rovigo librarians propose an idea: activate "take-away book" services, to be operated like take-away catering.

Has the Nov. 3 dpcm closed places of culture, including libraries, throughout Italy? In Rovigo, Polesine librarians are proposing to circumvent the problem by asking that “take-away book” services can be organized, thus likening book lending, the lynchpin of libraries, to the take-away service that is carried out by catering businesses. “As it has been reorganized by adopting all the provisions,” the librarians of the province of Rovigo point out in a note, “the lending service turns out to be assimilated to a ’take-away’ service of books that in nothing differs from that granted by thedecree to restaurant services. So why not grant the citizen, in addition to a meal ’to take away’ to support the economy of commercial establishments, also a take-away book in order to better cope with this new wave of pandemic that is already testing a large part of the country? This would further support the economy since, let’s remember, a large portion of library workers are employees of outsourced services who are in danger of having their employment contracts suspended.”

The Rhodes librarians emphasize that the libraries, since reopening on May 18, have equipped themselves by scrupulously applying all the prescribed sanitary measures: restricted entrances, registration of users’ access, points for sanitizing hands with special gel, mandatory use of masks, observance of intepersonal safety distance, enhancement of reservation services, in very many cases guaranteed access by appointment only, and all in order to avoid gatherings and the presence on the premises of users for too long.

The closure of the libraries has generated perplexity in those who work in libraries, also because, Polesine librarians recall, that provided by libraries is “a service that has not only been classified among the essential public ones (Law No. 146/90 art.1), but in a moment of great precariousness like the one we are living, it also becomes of vital social and cultural importance for the citizen.” Hence, therefore, the desire to keep it in place with a “take-away book” service.

There is also an additional aspect to consider: thanks to the so-called “bookstore bonus” activated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, libraries have contributed to the revitalization of the publishing industry and for the first time in a long time have had resources available to purchase new books. “Now that those acquisitions we should be enhancing by offering them to our users,” the Rovigo librarians conclude, “we are instead forced to lock them out and leave the new books on the shelves. If the ?rationale ?on which the decree is based is to prohibit gatherings and make people stay in their homes, why deprive them of the powerful tool of knowledge that is the book and deny them the opportunity to alleviate and enrich their stay at home through the practice of reading?”

Image: a room of the Civic Library in Porto Tolle (Rovigo)

Are libraries closing? Rovigo librarians launch an idea:
Are libraries closing? Rovigo librarians launch an idea: "takeaway books"

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