FAQs about Reopening Plans
We have received some questions about our plans for reopening and we wanted to provide some information about where we are in this process. Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible with the resources that we have available to us. We understand that the last couple of months have been frustrating for everyone and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to implement library services in a COVID-19 environment. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions:
Q: When are you reopening?
A: We understand that many community members have a strong desire for the Library to reopen and this is something that we are taking into consideration as we develop our reopening plan. We hope to reopen the facilities as soon as practicable: as of this writing, we are planning on a reopening date of July 20.
Q: What do you mean by “developing a reopening plan?” Why doesn’t the Library just reopen now?
A: Opening the Library is logistically challenging and there are a number of factors that we have to take into consideration. Some of these factors include:
- Acquiring new furnishings as well as adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to ensure the Library is safe for both staff and patrons.
- The emerging research on COVID-19 has often required reformulating and revising plans as new information becomes available.
- Lack of library-specific guidance on safe operations has required additional work and research in order to develop best practices for our organization.
- Developing and implementing remote staff training for new procedures—everything from PPE training to learning how to use our Curbside Pickup software.
- A complete overhaul of our staffing model and workflows to account for social distancing.
- We have an incredibly hardworking staff, but we are also a very small organization. Staffing levels are always a challenge for us. With our COVID-19 response, this is further complicated by the fact that we are simultaneously rolling out and maintaining other modified services such as Curbside Pickup and virtual programming while also working on our reopening plan.
Q: Why were you closed for so long? Couldn’t you be open like some other businesses or organizations?
A: When the governor issued the shelter-in-place order, some businesses and organizations were designated as essential services that had to remain open. Non-essential businesses and services were required to close. Libraries were not designated as essential services, so we would not have been able to open the physical building without violating the governor’s order. Our business model also presents a number of challenges in a pandemic because we are not dealing with one-way transactions: materials are borrowed, returned to the Library, and then borrowed again by different people in the community. This presents a number of health and safety concerns for both patrons and staff. In this instance, the safest decision for the community was for the Library building to close. We stand by that decision.
Q: What will reopening the Library look like as far as services? Will I be able to resume normal usage immediately?
A: We are taking a phased approach to reopening that will include slowly reintroducing Library services. We will be prioritizing high demand, low contact services to roll out first—this might include browsing, copying, printing, and faxing to start, though we have not finalized everything yet. We will also be limiting or delaying services that require high levels of contact between patrons and staff or services that conflict with the state guidance on gathering sizes. This includes but is not limited to in-person programming, notary and passport services, toys in the children’s department, and meeting room bookings.
Q: Are you anticipating any other limits on services?
A: We will be starting with very limited hours, most likely on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, though this is not finalized yet. We will be limiting the number of people in the building in accordance with the recommendations from the Illinois Department of Health; at times, there may be a wait to get into the Library building. Patrons will also be asked to limit their visits to a maximum of 60 minutes. Furniture with soft surfaces will be moved and seating will be greatly reduced. While we typically require children under the age of 8 to be accompanied by an adult, we are temporarily requiring children under the age of 11 to be accompanied by an adult.
Q: Why aren’t the exterior book drops open yet?
A: Our book drops have a capacity of about 250 items each and were simply not built to handle the the simultaneous return of the 3,600 items currently checked out. For the initial rollout, we chose to put bins by the entrance during limited hours when staff is present rather than immediately open the book drops because this allows us to monitor the bins more easily and swap them out as they fill up. Once the rate of returns slows to a manageable rate, we anticipate reopening the drops as normal.
Q: Will masks be required to visit the building?
A: Yes. Patrons will need to wear a mask during their visit. Disposable masks will be provided if needed.
Q: What will happen to Curbside Pickup?
A: We will continue to offer Curbside Pickup for the foreseeable future. Curbside Pickup will allow us to provide an option to patrons who may not be comfortable entering the building. Additionally, as a contactless service, Curbside Pickup allows us to limit exposure for both staff and patrons while still ensuring that our physical collection is available.
Q: What have staff been doing since the Library closed?
A: The majority of our staff has been working remotely since the Library closed to the public. One of the frustrating aspects of our current setup is that our work is not as visible as it is in a normal operational environment, which is difficult for our staff because we enjoy interacting with our patrons and we have all been working incredibly hard to make as many services available as possible. Some of the projects that we have tackled since March include:
- Launching the redesigned library website.
- Creating a variety of original content for social media, including original DIY and craft videos, science experiment videos for children, virtual Trivia Nights, Reader’s Advisory videos, virtual storytimes, book lists, and more.
- Bringing Library programming online.
- Launching a brand-new program calendar and registration system.
- Developing and implementing Curbside Pickup services.
- Collaborating with community leaders and organizations to create Lake Bluff Strong, a community resource that highlights information, programming, and other community resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort included designing and launching the Lake Bluff Strong website.
- Launching temporary card applications and the Seed Library as remote services.
- Continuing with regular services such as the eNewsletter, newsletter, digital materials selection, and more.
Q: I would really like the Library to further expand its services and hours—I don’t like that these things are limited right now! Can you change that?
A: We are right there with you—trust us. We are approaching all of these services with the idea that we will be starting slow and expanding as we go. This is a multi-step process and we are still very much in the early phases: we anticipate that things will change and we are developing our reopening plan with that in mind.
Q: I have questions that weren’t addressed by this FAQ, or I’d like to speak more in-depth to someone about this. Who should I contact and how?
A: We are always happy to talk to patrons. You can contact Eric Bailey, our director, with any questions.