As previously reported, Guelph is one of the areas in Ontario that has been approved for Stage 3 re-opening by the Government of Ontario starting this Friday. Question: Does that include the library? While the Guelph Public Library has been offering curbside pick-up for weeks, most in-person library services have remained inaccessible, and that trend is going to continue for the next few weeks.
In a press release, the Guelph Public Library confirmed that while they will be able to open on Friday as part of Stage 3, but there’s a difference between having permission and actually re-opening the library to visitors once again.
“Our focus over the next several weeks will be on re-opening up all library locations,” Library CEO Steven Kraft said in a statement. “We are now working alongside Public Health and the City of Guelph to understand how best to accommodate this new phase outlined by the Government of Ontario. Re-opening takes planning, preparations, recall of staff, training and more. The priority of the library continues to be the health and safety of our customers and staff.”
Along with virtual services, the library has been offering curbside pick-up of library materials since the end of May; all branches are participating with the exception of the branch at the West End Rec Centre and the Bookmobile. Curbside pick-up was allowed as part of Stage 1 of Ontario’s re-opening plan, but it took the library a couple of weeks to set up their new system before taking it to the public.
At the end of May on the Guelph Politicast, Kraft talked about what the library experience might look like when the time came for the library to re-open starting with the fact that people are likely going to have to make shorter trips to their local branch, and the need for more constant and consistent cleanings of high-touch areas.
“We’re also going to have to ration the amount of time that people use the public computers, and we’re going to have to take away approximately half of them to make sure that people are distanced appropriately during this time,” Kraft explained. “Furniture will have to be spread out as well, and while you’re still welcome to come in and read a magazine, we’re maybe going to have to limit the number of people in our buildings at one time.”
Re-opening the library also means changing the workflow of staff. “In terms of how small, or how packed, this building is at times, we’re going to have to alter people’s workflows and schedules so that they can work more from home and avoid each other’s personal space,” Kraft added. “We need to make a safe working environment for people”
The library anticipates an announcement of re-opening plans sometime in the next couple of weeks.