Hartford Public Library’s staff recently joined the fight against the scourge of Covid-19.

Library staffers worked with the city’s health department to call senior citizens to schedule vaccination at an event held at the Hartford Convention Center. In just under three days, library staff members made about 300 calls and booked appointments for over 60 residents.

“This is the work we do. We link people to the information they need to make informed decisions about all kinds of things in their lives, including health care. Our staff is also adept at helping people navigate sometimes complicated processes, like arranging for a vaccine. We are very excited to help make our city a healthier place,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, HPL’s president and CEO.

Marie Jarry, HPL’s director of public service, was one of the staff members who help people get access to the Moderna vaccine. Armed with information about the vaccination process, staff members assisted seniors through a system that can be confusing.

“The man I just talked to said he was calling all over the place to try and get an appointment and was so glad that I called him,” Jarry said. “Others are telling their friends that we contacted them so they are calling us looking to book an appointment too. I think it speaks to the need in the city.”

Andrea Figueroa, HPL’s senior executive assistant, made about 100 of the calls herself, speaking to people in both English and Spanish. “I was just going. I didn’t realize how many I’d called,” she said with a laugh.

Many of the seniors she reached struggled with online signup. They might not have been savvy about how to use the internet. Figueroa said people were delighted to get help. “People said we were lifesavers for getting to them at just the right time,” Figueroa said.

Many library staff members found this kind of outreach inspirational – it was a concrete way of combating the very thing that has put life on hold. “We were coming together to help our fellow citizens,” Jarry said.

“It was a good experience,” Figueroa said.

In addition to the outreach efforts, the library has put together a website with the latest information about the virus, prevention measures, and information from the state and city health departments: https://hplct.libguides.com/corona

“People trust us. It’s a responsibility that we don’t take lightly,” Quinn-Carey said.

City officials suggest that people who would like to get the vaccine fill out a vaccine interest form, linked in red at the top of HartfordCT.gov.

By Steve Scarpa, manager of public relations and communications


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