The Hawkesbury Public Library will open its doors to the public as of August 4 with several restrictions in place. « It will be a good adjustment to make at first, » said Lynn Belle Isle, General Manager of the Hawkesbury Library. At least people are already used to abiding by many of these measures.” Among these measures, visitors will be allowed a maximum period of 15 minutes inside the library, in order to allow as many people as possible to visit the library while respecting the physical distancing measures.
Other measures to be respected inside the library include hand disinfection upon arrival, one-way circulation, wearing a mask and other instructions such as choosing books without taking them in one’s hands for consultation and placing any book touched but not chosen on a cart for this purpose. In addition, library staff will ensure that any books that are returned are quarantined for 72 hours. All the instructions to be followed will be posted at the entrance to the library.
The implementation of these measures will allow the public to enter the library from Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for the circulation service. As a complement to this service, the contactless loan service, which is already offered at present, will continue to be offered outside the opening hours of the loan service. People who do not wish to enter the library will therefore continue to be able to reserve their books by e-mail or telephone and pick them up at specific times.
Although the reopening is announced for August 4, it is not known at this time how long these measures will be in place « It’s unknown at this time, » explained Belle Isle.
Cynthia Martin, head librarian for the Champlain Public Library, looks forward to welcoming patrons back inside. First, she noted, the library board has to review and approve everything necessary to allow the library to meet the pandemic public health safety guidelines.
“It has to be a library board decision,” Martin said, during a July 16 interview.
Martin noted that the library will need to have a plexiglass shield at the reception/checkout desk, and staff will need training in social distancing guidelines to follow for themselves and patrons. One question Martin needs answered is what guidelines does the provincial government have for patron behaviour inside the library, whether or not they are allowed to browse the shelves, and do library staff need to “quarantine” books that someone took off a shelf and then put back instead of taking it to the checkout desk to sign out.
The Vankleek Hill-based Champlain Library serves both the residents of Champlain Township and also East Hawkesbury Township. Martin noted that there will have to be a limit on the number of people allowed to be inside the library at any time during the day.
“So we’re crunching the numbers on that now,” she said.
For some residents, the library is their Internet access site, through use of the public computer station. Martin noted that when the library reopens to the public, users may be limited to just one public computer station and they may have to follow an appointment and time limit system.
Martin anticipates that the curbside pickup and drop-off system for library books and other materials will continue for a while even after full public access is restored. She noted that the number of people phoning or emailing to reserve a book or other library item for later collection has increased at a steady rate since the curbside program began.
Dominique Lascelle, of the Alfred-Plantagenet Library, said that the library will remain closed for the time being (except for curbside service), possibly throughout July and August.
She explains the decision this way: « It’s for the safety of the customers and our employees as well ». She also mentioned that logistically, it becomes quite complicated to disinfect everything and to respect all the sanitary measures in the context of a library if access is given to the public.
Curbside service is still available she added. Patrons can reserve their books by e-mail or telephone and pick them up there. The library’s website also has books available for electronic consultation and, although access to the library remains closed to the public, it is possible for the public to submit questions by e-mail or telephone.
Russell Public LIbrary
France Séguin-Couture, chief executive officer for the Russell Public Library, has to review her staff list and prepare a plan with recommendations to present to the library board at its next meeting about reopening both the Russell and Embrun branches of Russell Township libraries to the public.
“We are not fully equipped for this yet,” said Séguin-Couture.
She will propose the board approve continuing with the present curbside pickup and dropoff system that was set up during the early days of the pandemic, when all public libraries were closed to the public. She noted that the curbside program has worked very well for library patrons since it was set up in May. More than 3200 books and other items were checked out of the Russell branch through the curbside program in June and more than 1000 items through the Embrun branch.
Séguin-Couture also needs to contact the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien (CDSCEO). The Embrun branch of the library operates out of the Pavillon La Croisée, part of École élémentaire catholique Embrun, through an sharing arrangement between the CDSCEO and the library board. looks forward to welcoming patrons back inside.
The CDSCEO will be working on its own plan for reopening schools to students in September. Séguin-Couture is uncertain whether or not the CDSCEO will allow general public access into the school for anyone who wants to go to the Embrun library branch.
At press time, we had been unable to talk to representatives of several other Prescott-Russell libraries