Scottsdale Public Library plans to open June 8 with added precautions after over two months of closures.
Following months of increased digital services as well as curbside pickup at the libraries, Scottsdale Public Library will begin opening doors at two of their branches to the public next week. This is part of a three-phased approach that will include modifications to the interior of the building and rules of library usage.
“Our plan is to see how our first week being open goes and if we need to modify our process and then start restricting the amount of people that come in and monitoring that, we will,” Kira Peters, library director at Scottsdale Public Library.
Libraries closed March 18 in order to stop large public gatherings at all locations and prevent further spread of COVID-19. During the closures, other services were put in place to continue serving library patrons.
“Despite the building being closed, we still were able to give our community access to library materials,” Ms. Peters said.
Ms. Peters explained that through their online portal, members were able to reserve available books in advance and pick them up through their curbside service. According to her, approximately 2,600 cars went through the curbside pickup each week during the closures and their digital services have never been higher.
“Basically our online library branch [is doing] booming business,” Ms. Peters said.
Physically disinfecting each and every book that is checked out is a daunting task and would be practically impossible for the library to do and could harm the books themselves. Safety measures were taken in this process and once books were returned, they were placed in a three day incubation period before being put back on the shelves.
“We really are just recommending, you know, either people if you’re not comfortable with getting physical library materials, then use the digital resources,” Ms. Peters said.
Some books have been made available for online download, according to her.
She also recommended that once the library reopens, guests and visitors should be conscious of their own sanitation measure. Washing their hands and making sure to avoid touching their faces would also help to reduce the chance of picking up the disease.
Civic Center and Mustang libraries will be the two branches to re-open on June 8. Their hours will be:
Ms. Peters mentioned that their online service has been doing better than ever before and has seen a large uptake in users. Bethany Ronnberg, the eResource librarian for Scottsdale Public Library, said that the usage of their digital services has seen drastic increases in areas like their juvenile section and their online newspaper access.
“We’re not thrilled about COVID [but we are] at people using the library,” Ms. Ronnberg said.
The library offers a multitude of services to its members including digital access to The New York Times as well as new remote access to Ancestry.com.
Ms. Ronnberg says that usage of their New York Times access has increased from 600 users a month to 12,000 since the closures.
“People are now accessing us because libraries are one of the places where you can get secure reasonable vetted information,” she said.
While services are picking back up in Scottsdale, Phoenix Public Library remains closed while working on their approach to reopening their library services. Like Scottsdale, they have been running the same kind of curbside pickups along with their typical digital services according to Lee Franklin, community relations manager at the library.
“We feel grateful that we’ve been able to offer that and that our customers have been able to find us and we’ve still been able to be the library in our community,” Ms. Franklin said.
The library similarly provides access to movie and music streaming platforms as well as a variety of online reading options including audiobooks. Since closures, they have seen an over 30% increase across all their online service offerings.
“We [have] equal priorities, which [are] continuing to provide valuable library services to our community, and also at the same time, ensuring that we provide environments that are safe and healthy for our staff and for all of our visitors,” Ms. Franklin said.
Providing guests with the best quality service and safety for their health is important to Phoenix Public Library and they are seriously taking in the CDC’s recommendations on how they should come back when they do choose to reopen. The library is looking to implement a phased reopening but is still working on how they should go about doing so.
“Planning for what that could look like is our highest priority, and we are working on it, but we do not have anything that we can confirm or can release to the public as of yet,” Ms. Franklin said.
Editor’s Note: Caroline Yu is a student-journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism serving in a paid internship role at Independent Newsmedia.