Weber County Library is the first to reopen in Utah, leading the way in a manner for others to emulate. The Standard Examiner guest editiorial was written by the Library Board of Trustees, explaining the role Libraries play in the community and what to expect as they authorize resumption of regular public service hours.
THE WORK GOES ON
While the doors were closed, much went on inside the County’s libraries. Librarians were busy conducting collection evaluations and inventories, accepted shipments and ordered and cataloged new materials. Library employees developed programming plans; secured makerspace equipment with grant funding; procurred data center upgrades during a limited timeframe that allowed for eRate reimbursements; and applied for new grants. Business office employees processed orders, paid invoices, and provided payroll and other services to Library staff. All the online and other resources made available by the Library System required ongoing attention by employees in the data center who are integral to keeping the information systems running.
Many support staff members were engaged in receiving back the almost 200,000 items that were checked out prior to March 17th when buildings were closed. These returns were cleaned and sanitized before being re-shelved. Library employees are our greatest resource and they were protected as they came to work. Temperatures were checked, social distancing maintained, and gloves and sanitizing solutions set up each day at work locations throughout the five buildings.
Large crews were deeply immersed in suds and sanitizers as they deep cleaned the County’s five library buildings. While it is unlikely that any Library facilities or materials were compromised before closing, public health and safety is our top priority. Books, DVDs, CDs, magazines, toys, computers, makerspace equipment, desks, counters, workspaces, and displays, were cleaned and sanitized. Anything, including walls and windows, that could have been touched by the coronavirus, was deep cleaned and wiped down with sanitizer.
Cleaning five public library buildings that typically host approximately 100,000 visits per month was a substantial undertaking, and the Library staff had it well in hand. The Library building maintenance team played an integral role as the facilities closed to the public. They installed new ventilation filters, cleaned lighting lens covers, steam cleaned and sanitized restrooms, prepared irrigation systems for warmer weather, applied pre-emergent and fertilizers to landscaping, and oversaw the changes in the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems that are necessary to protect the public’s books and other materials.
While many Library employees, like everyone in our community, were home taking care of children, or self-isolated because of special health conditions or circumstances, others in our work group were on the job, serving Weber County residents.
DIGITAL ACCESS FOR EVERYONE
Tens of thousands of community members are busy borrowing large numbers of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, as well as downloading music and streaming movies from producers such as Disney, Lionsgate, Starz, and Warner Bros. The Library digital collection features books, magazines, and movies for people of all ages and the materials are easily downloaded to a wide variety of devices. Access to these materials is free to anyone with a Weber County Library card.
To sign up for an e-card, call the Ogden Valley Branch at 801-337-2660.
PHASED REOPENING PLANS
Weber County’s public libraries began a phased reopening May 1 with a dual role of helping minimize effects of the public health crisis while also managing in a way that helps protect the community and employees from a second wave of COVID-19.
Phase one: Curbside pickup of materials began May 1. This service continues to be available for anyone who would like to use it.
On May 11, libraries reopened for physical visits during regular hours:
Monday – Thursday, 10-9
Friday & Saturday, 10-6
Sunday, 1-5 (September – May)
Extra precautions are currently being taken to provide for social distancing and for cleaning and sanitizing of public spaces. Face coverings are required of all who enter. Temperature checks before entry may also be required if deemed appropriate by County or State health officials. Some service areas remain closed to the public, including children’s play areas and group seating. Monitoring the number of people allowed in at one time, and limiting computer session length or by appointment, may need to take place so vigorous sanitation procedures can be accommodated. All returned Library materials will continue to be sanitized and set aside for a period of time before reshelving, as recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Community members are invited to view the following webinar concerning recommendations for maintaining safe library collections for public use.
Phase two: on June 1, library meeting rooms became available for reservations, with some restrictions in place.
When community testing results for the coronavirus indicate it is safe to proceed, restrictions will gradually be loosened and users will be allowed guided access to a more robust range of Library services. However, Library sponsored gatherings will be made available only as directed by local health officials.
Phase three: business as usual, will be possible when a vaccine and other public health requirements, such as reliable, on-demand COVID-19 testing, are available. Until then, Library employees are committed to following fact-based, science driven information and recommendations to make visits safe and enjoyable.