By Vona Van Cleef, Retired EPISD school librarian and treasurer, Friends of the Library, Main
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit El Paso in March, the City closed the libraries. In early May, 137 of the library system’s 156 employees (88%) were furloughed or terminated. That number amounts to 30% of the total 450 City employees furloughed.
Five months later, the EPPL Main and its 12 branches remain closed and aren’t projected to re-open until 2021. Many of us suspect the reason for this is to save money, and not out of concern for the health of employees and library users.
Statistics found elsewhere (April 22, 2019 borderzine.com) show a net domestic out-migration of 50,317 people between 2010 and 2018. So people are leaving El Paso, and why would anyone want to move to a city that shows so little regard for its libraries?
Drop boxes have been opened for book returns at Main and the Richard Burges, Esperanza Moreno, and Dorris Van Doren branches, and people wanting to check books out can reserve them and make arrangements for curbside pickup at the three branches or from the bookmobile at the Armijo branch. Public response to this effort has been disappointing. Library Director Norma Martinez thinks that if more people would begin using these services, it might convince the City that our libraries are needed and missed.
If the City isn’t ready for a full-fledged re-opening of the library and its dozen branches, perhaps Main and the branches being used for curbside drop-off and delivery could be re-opened first and then let the system work back up to full operations gradually.
I think it reflects badly on the City of El Paso that City leaders have so little regard for the circulation of books and providing all the other services that our libraries provide. If the current City Council can’t see its way clear to re-opening our libraries, then perhaps the Nov. 3 election will give El Paso a new mayor and four City Council representatives who will push for restoration of library services with more vigor.
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Curbside Pick Up at your El Paso Public Libraries
Books may be reserved at elpasolibrary.org or by calling the numbers for each library
Available from 10 am – 6 pm at:
Richard Burges Regional Library (915 212-0317) on Mondays and Thursdays
Esperanza Moreno Regional Library (915 212-0442) on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Dorris Van Doren Regional Library (915 212-0440) on Wednesdays and Fridays
The Bookmobile (915 212-0600) will distribute pre-ordered books
from 2 pm to 7 pm at:
Armijo Branch Library on Tuesdays
Clardy Fox Branch Library on Wednesdays
Sergio Troncoso Library on Thursdays
Judge Marquez Lower Valley Library on Saturdays 11 am- 4 pm
Books may be returned every Friday from 10 am to 6 pm at Richard Burges, Esperanza Moreno, Dorris Van Doren, and Main Library book drops. Books may also be returned to the Bookmobile.