COVID-19 Library Updates

COVID-19 is the name for a strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.  This is a contagious disease that causes respiratory illness in people.  It has since appeared in other countries outside of China, including the United States, and is now considered to be a pandemic.  Visit this page for updates about our library and community response to COVID-19, plus a helpful Guide to COVID-19 for Public Libraries.

At the Local Level (newest to oldest)

ADDED 5/8/20: Some staff have been working partial hours in the building while others have worked remotely; all staff will be back in the library as of Monday, May 11th, and will be available Mondays – Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to take your phone calls and emails.  The building itself remains closed to the public until further notice, but plans are underway for a phased reopening.  Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, have you noticed words posted in the windows of the library and other locations in Hamilton and Wenham?  It’s all part of the Hamilton-Wenham Poetry Slam!  Use the words you see to create fantastic poetry and submit it here.  You can also participate by posting favorite words in your own windows to inspire neighbors and passersby.

Ms. Kathy has created a sidewalk chalk obstacle course to amuse and delight, and…

Ms. Lorraine joins the town of Wenham in recognizing Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week with the perfect book.

ADDED 5/7/20: Join us tonight for a special author visit via Zoom: Jane Healey, author of The Beantown Girls. Her appearance is part of our ongoing 2020 Author Series here at Hamilton-Wenham. This event, like our other Zoom events, requires preregistration.  We also have two more book club meetups on the horizon: Literary Luncheon Online and Global Readers Online, who will be discussing The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and The Sympathizer respectively.

For a non-book-related but thoroughly entertaining event, there will be a Dungeons & Dragons session for interested parties 12 and up.  In this case space is limited, so timely registration is especially recommended.  Here is a roster of these four Zoom library events, all this month:

Author Jane Healey (Thurs. May 7 at 7:00 p.m.)

Literary Luncheon Online (Tues. May 19, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)

Learn to Play Dungeons & Dragons (Tues. May 19, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.)

Global Readers Online (Thurs. May 28, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)

Summer Reading 2020 with BEANSTACK

Also, please stay tuned for our upcoming Summer Reading 2020 program, open to children, teens and adults alike.  Librarian Kim Claire is working mightily behind the scenes with Beanstack, the web- and mobile-based app that we will be using for fun activities, reading challenges, and the opportunity to win badges and tickets for local prizes.  Click here for a teaser; more information coming soon.

ADDED 5/4/20: The May Newsletter is out!  Click for helpful information about library services, programming and other offerings.  We have also subscribed to two new electronic resources: NewsBank (which includes coverage for multiple newspapers, including the old Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle and current Chronicle & Transcript) and RBdigital.  Get more news and stream excellent programming from these two new resources.

ADDED 5/1/20: Important news for the Commonwealth of Massachuetts – Baker-Polito Administration Orders Use of Mask or Face Covering in Public, Announces Increased Community Health Center COVID-19 Testing Capacity.

Mask and Face Covering Order: The Baker-Polito Administration has ordered all residents over the age of two to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not possible. This statewide order goes into effect on May 6th and supersedes previously issued guidance relative to mask use.”

Meanwhile at the library, it’s official: we have our Summer Mascot, but we don’t have a name!  Cast your ballot in the contest to Help Name Our Mascot.  Also, the Children’s Room has added four more videos to their roster of online story times.  Visit or follow the Children’s Room Facebook Page to see new videos as they appear, typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

ADDED 4/29/20: Released yesterday, April 28th, Baker-Polito Administration Extends Non-Essential Business Closures to May 18th, Announces Reopening Advisory Board.

“Today, the Baker-Polito Administration extended the essential services emergency order to May 18th and launched a Reopening Advisory Board that will produce a plan to the Governor by May 18th. The Administration also announced that the Department of Public Health’s Stay At Home Advisory remains in effect and gatherings of 10 or more people remain prohibited until May 18th.”

ADDED 4/27/20: Staff have been working behind the scenes to launch a new service that we are very excited about: Your Next Great Read.  This is an online form you can submit to get special recommendations from library staff.  Our Readers’ Advisory Team will use the answers on your form to pick three titles that we hope you will like.  Just eBook and eAudio titles for now, but once the library reopens we can start setting physical books aside as well.  The form comes in two versions, for Adults/Teens and Children.

Also, a special note to children and families: the Summer Mascot will be announced on Friday, May 1st.  Our Mascot has no name yet, so there will be a contest for naming the Mascot, with a ballot released on the day.  Stay tuned!

ADDED 4/24/20: To residents of Hamilton, please be aware of the following IMPORTANT NOTICE from HAMILTON BOARD of HEALTH – SPAM versus LEGITIMATE CALLS, released yesterday (April 23rd) on the Town Hall web site.  Remember that you can keep up with the most current ordinances for the two towns via the town hall web sites:

Town of Hamilton | Town of Wenham

You can also subscribe to HWCAM’s YouTube Channel to keep up with what the two towns are doing for you.

ADDED 4/23/20: Our book groups have moved online!  If you’ve ever wanted to join the Literary Luncheon, hosted by Amy Dziewit, or Dede McManus’ Wednesday Night Book Club, consider dropping by.  The new Spring Book Club has also opened under the auspices of Lewis Parsons.  Discussions will be held via Zoom about titles with eBook and eAudio options and unlimited checkout – no hold lists, just come get your book!  Click below for details about title choices and how to pre-register.

Literary Luncheon (Tues. April 28, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)

Spring Book Club (Thurs. April 30, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)

Wednesday Night Book Club (Wed. May 6, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.)

At the state level, most of you probably already know about Governor Baker’s April 21st announcement extending school and daycare closures through the end of the current school year.  Please continue to avail yourselves of our library’s many virtual resources for teens and children, and vetted online resources beyond our library (see the COVID-19 tab for curated lists.)

Do you have questions about services for children and teens at this time?  Email our resident experts, Children’s Librarian Lorraine Der ( and Young Adult Librarian Kim Claire (, for support and guidance.

ADDED 4/17/20: Young Adult Librarian Kim Claire has created a video message from the Hamilton-Wenham Library to the towns of Hamilton and Wenham.  We are still here, and we miss you!  Currently living on the front page of the web site, but see also below:

ADDED 4/16/20: The Children’s Room has produced two new videos of online programming!  Ms. Kathy presents a story time featuring Oh, Look! by Patricia Polacco, while Lorraine celebrates National Poetry month with an introduction to Haiku.  Keep an eye out for more to come on the Children’s Facebook Page.

ADDED 4/14/20: Mindful of Assistant Director Rob Pondelli’s call for personal stories of the pandemic, Reference Librarian Sarah Lauderdale asks us to consider that we are all part of history.  Connect with earlier generations by visiting our Hamilton-Wenham’s Times Past series of 66 filmed oral histories of the two towns, available and freely accessible online (hosted at the Internet Archive.)

ADDED 4/11/20: Young Adult Librarian Kim Claire says, “Just keep swimming” – and makes it look easy, with this beautifully curated list of F.I.S.H. (Fun, Inspiration, Study, Health) Resources for Teens at Home.

ADDED 4/10/20: Even with no one in it, the Children’s Room at our libray is a busy place!  Lorraine celebrates National Poetry Month with a poem by John Ciardi (a performance with surprising bite.)  She has also freshly expanded her list of Resources Galore to Play, Create, Read, Travel, & Learn Together, which includes a selection of very welcome screen-free activities.  You can also visit this list of Summer Possibilities for a sneak peak at some of our hopeful summer programming for children.

ADDED 4/6/20: As of April 3rd, both Hamilton and Wenham encourage the use of face masks when going out in public.  Hamilton gives a good explanation of the reasoning here.  Wenham includes a link to best practices for wearing masks, with particular attention to safely putting them on and taking them off.

Since N95 or surgical masks must be reserved for hospitals and medical/EMT professionals, makeshift face coverings from common household items are one recourse, as are sewing or otherwise crafting them.  Below, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams presents one ingenious example of a quick and easy mask with no tools or special skills required, just fabric and two rubber bands.

In Boston Mayor Walsh announced Stricter Measures In Place For Social, Physical Distancing to Curb COVID-19 Impact.  Click the preceding link for a full outlay of these new measures; see also the official Public Health Advisory, AKA the 9:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m. citywide curfew, declared by the Boston Public Health Commission.

ADDED 4/2/20: Please be advised that all parks, playgrounds, and fields in the town of Hamilton are closed, per the Hamilton Board of Health (Public Health Emergency Order, April 1, 2020.)  All parks, playgrounds, fields and trails in the town of Wenham are closed through May 4th (COVID-19 Town of Wenham Press Release – April 2, 2020.)  You can keep up with the most current ordinances for the two towns via the town hall web sites:

Town of Hamilton | Town of Wenham

ADDED 4/1/20: Hamilton-Wenham Public Library Wants You!  Tell us about your experiences living through this historical moment by emailing your stories, photos, journal entries, and more to or  All items will be collected through the end of the year.

ADDED 3/31/20: Since our Museum Pass page is effectively inactive at present, we have removed it from the menu of our library web site to give space/prominence to the new COVID-19 menu item, which includes links to this page, the new COVID Freebies page, and Children’s Librarian Lorraine Der’s expanded blog post of Resource Galore!  We look forward to being able to remove COVID-19 as a tab and reinstating Museum Passes in the future.

Visit the Informed Teens blog for a schedule of aspirational Summer Programs for Teens.  It’s hard to predict the future right now, so be advised that dates, times and programs may change.  Also, are you a Hamilton or Wenham resident who doesn’t have a library card?  Click here for instructions on how to get a temporary card and start accessing our many online resources.

ADDED 3/30/20: On Saturday, March 28th, Hamilton announced its first known case of COVID-19.  Our best wishes to this person, and please, everyone, keep safe and well.

Over the past week we have taken a number of questions at  Keep sending us your emails!  We are standing by with answers about getting eBooks from Overdrive or through Overdrive’s Libby app, accessing the Overdrive holdings of other library systems in Massachusetts, using Author Alerts to keep ahead of new books and movies on order, accessing the New York Times through our library subscription, creating free eCards with the Boston Public Library for access to additional resources (want a second Hoopla account?), and more.

ADDED 3/27/20: Our Facebook account just posted the snazzy infographic opposite.  Please notice that all items currently on the hold shelf will remain on the hold shelf until we are able to re-open, and all checkouts now have a due date of May 4th.  We ask that you hold onto any materials you still have checked out as staff are not in the building to receive them. Email if you have any questions!

ADDED 3/26/20: On Tuesday, March 24th, Wenham announced its first known case of COVID-19.  We wish this person a swift and full recovery.

At the library level, staff continue to work remotely from outside the library.  Reference staff is creating a forthcoming page of COVID Freebies.  Many online learning outlets are offering products and services at no charge in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or have made special modifications or add-ons to Electronic Resources to which we already subscribe.  Rather than make you wait, some examples include Scholastic’s Learn From Home, which we mentioned earlier, and Ancestry‘s agreement to make our Ancestry Library Edition subscription accessible from home during the shutdown period (Hamilton-Wenham card number and PIN/password required for login.)  Since our subscription is normally only available for use within the library, this will expand your genealogical research options from home.

In a similar vein, visit Ways to Play & Learn at Home Together!, a blog post by our very own Children’s Librarian Lorraine Der listing online enrichment venues for remote play and learning.

ADDED 3/23/20: As of Tuesday, March 24th, library staff at Hamilton-Wenham and other public libraries will work remotely, per the recent emergency order from Governor Baker. We cannot presently take any phone calls, but you can still reach us by email at  The library web site will also be maintained remotely, with the addition of updates, links to more eResources, and other content.  Stay well and stay tuned!

ADDED 3/17/20: Yesterday (Monday March 16th) marked the start of our library’s closure to the public, but staff remain in the building working on projects, both new and longstanding.  We are here and available to take your calls and emails, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  If this changes we will let you know.

Of course, our Electronic Resources are available 24/7.  If you have any questions about those or anything else that we could help you with (Reference, Research, the 2020 Census, additional offsite resources for downloadable books and audio online), drop us a line!

News of interest to parents, children and teachers: Scholastic has created a free 20-day online learning resource called Learn at Home.  Go check it out!  This resource employs two other Scholastic products called Book Flix and Watch & Learn Library.  If you are prompted to log into either of these, just enter the following:

username: Learning20 | password: Clifford

ADDED 3/14/20: Per our latest announcement:

“In the interest of public health and in consultation with town officials and the Library Board of Trustees, the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library will be closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16. The tentative date we will re-open is Monday, March 30.

Due dates for all materials have been extended to Friday, April 3. All holds currently at the Library have extended pickup dates of April 3. All Library cards that were set to expire have been renewed for 60 days.

All Library programs, events, and meetings have been cancelled through Saturday, April 4.

Our online resources are always available from your home computer, tablet, or phone. Overdrive eBooks and eAudios are available in the Libby app. Freegal music can be streamed through the Freegal app. Hoopla movies and TV shows can be streamed through the Hoopla app.

Library staff will be available to answer the phones and reply to email questions Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Please check the Library website, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram accounts for future updates regarding open and closed hours.”

ADDED 3/12/20: In consultation with town officials, the Library has decided to cancel and or postpone all programs, meetings and events through April 3. We will evaluate the possibility of resuming programming by the end of March. This decision will be based upon the recommendations of the Board of Health, the Library Board of Trustees and town and government officials. At this time, the Library will remain open to the public. We will continue to employ the precautions recommended by the Board of Health, Mass. Dept of Health, and the CDC.

ADDED 3/11/20: Governor Baker has declared a State of Emergency to support the Commonwealth’s response to Coronavirus.  Here at Hamilton-Wenham, Director Kim Butler posted the following to our library’s Facebook account:

“Out of an abundance of caution we, in consultation with town officials, have decided to cancel the March Friends of the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library book sale that was scheduled to start this Friday, March 13. It is unfortunate that we have had to make this decision but feel that it is the responsible thing to do for the safety of our staff, volunteers, and patrons. If you would like to support the Friends please consider becoming a member, renewing your membership, or making a donation at their web site.  Currently, there are no other changes to our programming schedule. Please continue to check our social media pages and our web site for updates as decisions are made.”

ADDED 3/9/20: Please see this joint statement from the towns of Hamilton and Wenham and from their respective Boards of Health.

COVID-19 for Public Libraries

Because this is a rapidly developing news situation and an object of public concern, we want to share a resource that we are using ourselves at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library:

A Guide to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) for Public Libraries

This guide was put together by National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) and is a .gov web page.  It includes links to reputable, vetted sources such as Medline, NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)  The CDC in particular offers practical information about how COVID-19 spreads, its symptoms, and best practices for prevention.  “News Resources” includes links to breaking information from the New York Times, BBC and other outlets, while “Maps and Visualizations” provides helpful tools for understanding the movement of COVID-19 around the world and within our borders.

We hope, in the midst of changing and often competing information about Coronavirus, that this straightforward guide will be of use.