How do you keep seven branches of the Albany Public Library, more than 100 employees and 1 million annual library visitors going during the coronavirus pandemic shutdown?
We caught up with Albany Public Library Executive Director (and UAlbany alum and adjunct faculty member) Scott Jarzombek to find out. Jarzombek spoke with Writers Institute director Paul Grondahl about how he quickly pivoted to a Virtual Albany Public Library, in part because he teaches in UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness and he was tracking COVID-19 early on and was prepared when the pandemic began to spread across New York State and the Capital Region. Although he was in his library office on this day in order to perform payroll duties, he and his entire staff has been working remotely and providing the same wide range of library services remotely. Even the reference desk has been as busy as ever, fielding questions on everything from arcane knowledge to income tax preparation to assistance for small businesses applying for a federal stimulus loan. Jarzombek also told an intriguing story about how two branches of the library may be “haunted” and he himself and his dog observed some creepy vibes when he was there alone late at night. He also talks about his love of post-apocalyptic fiction, although he is limited his current reading to non-zombie books. We talked about the many collaborations between the Writers Institute and the Albany Public Library and how our partnership has helped bring great writers to new communities of people. Jarzombek has been a lifelong loyal patron of his local public library and he earned a degree from UAlbany’s Library Science Program and began working at Albany Public Library while a student. He worked as a branch library for nine years, left to work elsewhere during a five-year hiatus and returned in 2014 as executive director of APL.