Some libraries in New York have opened back up with limited services for patrons as the state recovers from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Empire State Development announced that regions in Phase 1 of reopening are permitted to allow curbside pick-up services; while those in Phase 2 are allowed limited in-person pickup, though capacity inside will be limited.
According to officials, at most libraries, patrons can request materials online or over the phone and then later pick them up at a time specified by library staff. Once they are reopened, libraries are expected to be restricted to less than 50 percent capacity.
Per state and federal guidelines, staff members and patrons will have to wear face coverings and continue following social distancing practices by staying at least six feet apart.
“Libraries that are operated by a not-for-profit or other non-governmental organization may perform curbside or 'in-store' pickup once the region in which they are located reaches Phase 1 and may perform other 'in-store' operations once the region in which they are located reaches Phase 2,” according to guidance from the state.
As of this week, the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, North Country, Mohawk Valley, and Central New York entered or will enter Phase 2 of their reopening plans. New York City is on track to enter Phase 1 on Monday, June 8, while the Hudson Valley and Long Island could enter Phase 2 as of Tuesday, June 9.
In Library Journal, Christian Zabriskie, the Executive Director of the Onondaga County Public Library system, said that “it’s okay to be nervous; it’s okay to be scared (about reopening libraries). Those emotions will not stop you from doing what you need to do.”
“While unpopular with people on both sides of the library reopening debate, curbside service provides an important middle step to reorient staff back to work and give you time to set up the physical changes you will need for staff and patron safety,” he added. “It should last no less than two weeks to get the benefits of both warmup and stopgap.”
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