Hurricane Ike was ruling the library system for the days preceding landfall. On Wednesday it looked like we could be the targeted area so the word came down to close at 6 p.m. on Thursday to prepare the library. Late, on Wednesday we were instructed to close all day on Thursday and to allow our part-time staff to work as much of their scheduled time as possible (up to 20 hours a week). When we had the preparation completed all staff were free to leave. City employees are not paid when not working during emergency situations. If anyone is short their 20 or 40 hour schedule they must use any personal leave or vacation time to supplement their time. We had enough work to keep everyone busy for a full day on Thursday.
As Ike moved away from our area we were told that anyone that still had hours to work and had work to keep them busy could come in on Friday and work. I opted for a vacation day. I swore after moving back into the library last year I was going to take a week or more of vacation but there never seemed to be a good time to take a whole week. Now I have to get a day here or a day there to keep from losing some of my vacation time since I'm maxed out. Late Saturday I got a call to staff the library for Sunday afternoon so the library could resume normal hours. Only four of the full-time staff were available for duty with unused hours. We wouldn't have everything back in place until Monday but people could use the library again.
We have found that the book drop will leak at times during heavy rains so we decided to close it. Our computer person at Central moved date dues until Friday, Sept. 19 to eliminate any problems with our closing or people being out of town and unable to get their books returned on time or renewed. Miss Jean went in late Saturday and hooked up the computers and cash register so we would be ready on Sunday.
We'll keep some of the books off the bottom shelves when there is sufficient room to accommodate them on higher shelves. I know a lot of you are like me and wish we never had to use the bottom shelves. A second benefit to that is that we won't have to move them for the next hurricane threat. We were able to do this easily in the children's area but not in the adult fiction and non-fiction area.
The computers received a good cleaning up, internally and externally while Miss Jean and staff proceeded to shut them down. Last step was to wrap them in heavy-duty plastic. We were complaining last year about all the delays due to receiving and installing the special storm proof windows. They were a blessing in this event. They can stand up to 125 mile per hour wind or a category 3 hurricane. Then, if they do break they would shatter like a car window. That is why we don't need metal or wood storm shutters installed.
During Thursday afternoon I was able to catch up on all the donations I had and cleaned out a few files. Miss Jean started a project she never has time for: putting colored dots and numbering juvenile series like I have done over the years with adult fiction. With staff help she was able to get a handle on her donations. The library received a deeper cleaning after the sandbags were prepared for the doors. I didn't know that sand dust could permeate an area. The staff handling that task had to wear breathing masks.
We hope you understand the reasons for disrupting library services. We can be very thankful that Hurricane Ike did not hit our area.