The distance between the two large stone lions that have been guarding the entrance to New York City's Public Library for over a century is way over two meters. The iconic felines traditionally wear wreaths at Christmas time. But this year their accessories: face masks, arrived early and won't change depending on the season. But we New Yorkers care for everybody. That's the map. So and a symbol of helping each other. You know this is careful the symbol of uh we are caring for other people. Twin lions' patience and fortitude have calmly watched the city live through a month of protests in June without budging. Their job is to protect the building of New York City Public Library on 5th Avenue. And they have done it well despite the pandemic. Have you been in the library? I mean to go to this library is like a temple. You know there's all the artifacts of great works from the past, the rooms themselves are physically beautiful, the ceiling in the rose room is um, it reminds me of uh the Sistine Chapel. Historian Ken Brown is one of over three and a half million readers who come to New York City's Public Library. He used to come here every weekend to work until the coronavirus forced it to close. But now that the library reopened its doors on July 13th, Brown is back.
To look at um uh the handling of library materials specifically and the recommendation is a 72-hour quarantine, once those materials are returned, And so you know currently, we have about 250,000 items that are sitting in the homes of New Yorkers that will begin returning. People begin returning those materials and so we'll um uh welcome those materials back. But we'll be quarantining all returned materials for 72 hours. The library managers have already returned to their workplace. But for readers the process is much slower and much more gradual. At first, readers will only be able to pre-order the desired items and pick them up in the library branches. So we've seen a dramatic increase of signups for library cards, about 50,000 signups during the period that we've been closed which is a significant number for us. And a huge increase in the downloading of materials. So ebooks, audiobooks, library resources and not just on the simply e APP, but the use of our our research services online. The library invited young actors and actresses that read a whole array of books for kids. Professional teachers who could help children with homework. And just famous New Yorkers who left their advice of what to read during the lockdown. Jill Lapore's Magisterial History of America. When I was a teenager to reading Charlotte's web to my grandchildren. My favorite book is Beloved by Tony Morrison. Shay Youngblood Black Girl in Paris. Despite the slow return to the new normal, the New York Public Library excitedly entered the summer of 2020. This year, it celebrates its 125th anniversary. And though there will be no large-scale festivities, there is little doubt this time will never be forgotten. Elena Wolfe in New York Anna Rice VOA News