July 2, 2020
DAYTON–Retail VS. Libraries, a topic to ponder when asking why the library remains closed.
We know it can be difficult for our community when the library is closed and we want to do everything we can to reopen, while ensuring that we keep our community and patrons safe. In phase 3 of the Governor’s phased reopening plan, the State has not released industry specific guidelines for reopening libraries. There are many different factors to consider when evaluating library services in a post COVID-19 world and how we move forward. We want to help the public to understand that libraries are very public spaces and with that comes greater risk for the spread of COVID-19. Unlike retail in which you take items home to keep, library materials are passed around the community repeatedly. Library spaces feature high touch areas and community areas in which viruses are more easily transferred.
In working with the Washington State Library, other libraries across the state, and State and Local Health Departments, we are putting plans into place to mitigate the risks of viral spread when you use your community library. Due to concerns of circulating library materials, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, OCLC, and Betelle Institute conducted in-depth research to minimize exposure to the virus. The REALM project (Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) shows that the virus is undetectable on library materials after three days. As a result, a mandatory quarantine of items returned for a minimum of 72 hours and implement sanitation procedures for high touch areas and equipment. Staff will use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when handling materials and offering services to the public. We received a $1000 grant from the Washington State Library, through the CARES Act to purchase PPE and we should start receiving that equipment in the next couple of weeks.
During our closure we have introduced new services, including: digital resources, virtual summer reading programs, curbside services, online access cards, and more. We also received a grant to offer WiFi Hotspots. We will be offering five WiFi Hotspots for checkout, in hopes of providing home internet access because work and education is transitioning to remote access. We are also adding a few Chromebooks, which will be available for checkout alongside the Hotspots.
Additionally, we have taken full advantage of the closure to complete the Main Floor Remodel, as well as add the Vertical Lift to allow greater accessibility to the youth area. Our remodel also has plans in place for a more open floor plan to compliment social distancing standards. To limit viral exposure for our vulnerable patrons, we will also implement designated hours.
We are truly in unpredictable times, but your library will always be available. It may not be in the same ways as before, but we will provide the vital resources you need as a Columbia County community member. If you have any questions about services or upcoming plans contact us: [email protected] or on our website daytonml.org.