When Ontario’s first stage of economic recovery was announced last week, Cathy Simpson was surprised to discover libraries were among the services that could reopen Tuesday, for pickup and delivery.
The head librarian and CEO of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library says although she has been in regular communication with the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries and the Ontario Library Association, “we weren’t given a head’s up that this was coming.”
Listening to the news last Thursday was the first she heard of a date, leaving her scrambling for supplies and a plan to ensure she can begin providing services safely for staff and library patrons.
Doors will remain closed to the public, but Simpson was offering a drop-off for books by Wednesday.
Delivery would likely be first offered for those who are shut-ins, possibly with a combination of volunteers and staff involved.
Simpson was unsure Tuesday about a date for offering curbside pickup of books, but says she is expecting it to be available in the next two weeks.
She is picturing a service similar to what retailers are offering, but “there are a lot of logistics to work out first.”
She said Monday she was also requiring clarification from the municipality, which will have to be involved in any reopening plans.
At this point, the library is closed to staff, who are working from home, and they were expecting it to remain closed until June 30.
Simpson has been working on protocols for reopening, expecting it to unfold in stages, and expected book drop-offs and pickups to come first.
But at this point, Simpson says, while they have a sufficient supply of masks for staff, both washable and disposable, they are short of other personal protective equipment, including gloves, which she wants available to staff before they begin sorting returned library materials. “Gloves have been sourced, but they’re not going to come for a while,” she says.
“The consensus among libraries is to quarantine return materials for 72 hours,” she adds, before they go back on the shelf.
Simpson was talking to library board members Wednesday about next steps.
“We want to be sure we’re prepared and everyone’s safe.”
Although the Province may call for the opening of libraries to the public, as it has with retailers, that decision has to include consultation with the municipality. “We can’t just open the doors to the public the way we’re set up now. We need to go in and make some changes. We’re lucky we have spacing between our shelving, but we have to get rid of some furniture. We’re not sure about public computers — some people really need the computers.”
Arrangements have to be made for sanitizing, and possibly plexiglass installed at the check-out desk.
“We’re still assuming we’ve got until the end of June, with an opening July 2, but that could change.”
Simpson suggests patrons call 1-289-401-3216 for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the library website at https://notlpubliclibrary.org.