The Blue Mountain Public Library (BMPL) was closed in March as the COVID pandemic took hold but is now preparing to welcome patrons back into the L.E. Shore building in Thornbury with limited access.
“I don’t want to tell the community that our materials are safe, if I cannot guarantee that they are,” says Dr. Sabrina Saunders, CEO of BMPL. “So, that is why I have opted to close off the main stacks. Anything that is not in our displays can be put on hold and we can have it for you within a day.”
Saunders says although provincial regulations would allow the library to open its entire collection, BMPL has chosen to limit access at this time.
“The issue is touching. How do you let someone walk up and down the aisle and not touch anything?” Saunders says.
She explains that the Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) guidelines have identified that there is a difference between light browsing and heavy browsing.
“If you were to physically touch a book and read the back cover and then put it back, it doesn’t need to be quarantined. But, if you were to flip through the pages and sit with it for five minutes, then it needs to be quarantined. That is something that I just don’t feel comfortable policing, nor do we have the staff to follow behind every person that comes through our doors,” she says.
Saunders adds that at this point, BMPL does not have a timeline to reopen the entire collection at L.E. Shore.
Instead, residents can expect to see a portion of the library sectioned off with select titles on display for browsing.
There will be a limit of 15 patrons in the building at one time and staff will be monitoring the entrance and exit.
Patrons will not be under any time limit, however, the intention is for the facility to be used in a ‘grab-and-go’ manner.
“There are no places to sit and there are no tables out. It is not intended to be the community hub we normally are at this time,” Saunders says.
“We are losing the whole socialization piece of what libraries bring to the community. But, we can’t do that safely right now.”
Hours of operation have been adjusted to allow staff to continue offering all services while maintaining the budget.
The BMPL adjusted hours of operation will be Tuesdays and Thurdsays, noon to 7 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays, noon to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m.
Patrons will be required to wear face coverings and must present their library card at entry to allow for contact tracing.
The facility will be outfitted with hand sanitizer, signs to provide traffic flow and plexiglass at the counter.
BMPL will continue to provide computer access, however, access will be provided in 45-minute increments, beginning at the top of the hour.
“We are very aware of the kind of service we pride ourselves in giving and we are going to try to give the same type of service, it just might look a little different,” Saunders adds.
According to Saunders, once L.E. Shore is up and running, BMPL will also be opening its Craigleith location.
“We are hoping to have the Craigleith Heritage Depot open for holds, pick up and library services, which again, would be limited access to the building, by the end of August,” she says.
“We will be going into museum services at the end of September, with the go-ahead from the health unit.”
For more information and future updates from the BMPL, visit thebluemountainslibrary.ca