For current information, please see the blog posted on September 12, 2020 regarding the plan to reopen the library.
As the pandemic continues, one of the most frequently asked questions is When will the library building be open to the public? This decision is based on input from a number of sources. We take guidance from the Governor, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Town Administration and Health Agent, the Board of Library Trustees and from the CLAMS Library network. We would like to coordinate reopening with all other area libraries.
In our plans to reopen library buildings, we prioritize the safety of library staff and patrons. While the cleaning of the buildings is managed by the town, it is clear we will need more regular sanitizing of high touch areas, such as the stair railings, tables, chairs, counter tops and door handles. This activity needs to be an ongoing process throughout the day. Hand sanitizer will be available at all entrances and library patrons will be encouraged to use it. Not only does this activity meet the COVID recommendations, it also shows library patrons that we take the current situation very seriously.
The town requires people to wear masks in all public buildings. All staff will be wearing masks and patrons without a mask will be offered one. If a patron is uncomfortable wearing a mask for any reason, library staff will be happy to retrieve and deliver the materials to them outside the library buildings.
Reopening the library presents a number of significant challenges. In order to provide the recommended social distancing, some of the public areas of the buildings have been designated for staff use and work flow. Currently all books that are returned to the building are quarantined for 72-hours. When patrons are back in the stacks we will ask them not to re-shelve any materials they have used. Book trucks will be available so that these items may also be added to the quarantine process. In order to maintain social distancing, a number of chairs and computer workstations have been removed, protective covers have been added to the keyboards, and study tables will have just one seat available. Many patrons who come to the library use the space as a home office for several hours. The areas where they sit and work will require attention between each use. Shared toys have been removed from the Children’s Room. To keep everyone safe, families will be encouraged to come in only to find the materials they need and take them home.
Libraries that have opened report that people have expected things to be different. They have developed new habits keeping at a safe distance from others and wearing a mask. They also report lower numbers as people choose to limit their exposure. For those people we will offer outside delivery by appointment.
So, when will the library reopen? Governor Baker has scaled back on Phase III of the reopening plan based on a reversal of the trend towards fewer positive tests in the state. The COVID numbers are being watched carefully as the safety of town employees and the public are foremost in the decision making process.