Letter to the editor: Time to reopen libraries to all users for book checkout

Editor:
Sno-Isle Libraries have been closed since Friday, March 13 and the only services offered are electronic. The online catalog has been reduced to electronic items only. This is discriminatory and is only serving the privileged. The libraries are taxpayer funded and should provide services to all.
Action
  • Immediately update and include all online catalog materials. Allow users to order materials for “hold” shelves.
  • Reopen libraries for “book take-out”  on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Reopen for all library users (taxpayers) effective Saturday, May 9.
How to do this
  • Notify users to library reopening for book take-out on hold items only.
  • Users will come to library with mask and wait in line for their turn.
  • Select their materials from the hold shelves
  • Check-out materials then depart library premises
No customer service staff support available. Library will be partitioned and closed except for the hold shelves and checkout. No loitering allowed.
Positive and smart action is required.
Christine Koch
Edmonds

6 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Time to reopen libraries to all users for book checkout”

  1. It is great to try to help others and your suggestions are good. If online only materials are available, how can these books be available for those without computers put things on hold? It must be hard for those who cannot get reading materials, but taxpayers as well as library workers need protection from this deadly virus.
    Yes it would be nice to get going but we have been so careful this far, and let’s all support one another in this effort.

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  2. Should be able to process returns also. I have several books at home. Have staff empty return bins.

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  3. The online catalog HAS NOT been reduced to online items only! You can still place holds on physical items. When you search in the catalog for an item, you can change the filter on the right – under “Titles I Can”, select “borrow and take home”. I heard in a region-wide conference about libraries and Covid-19 that some libraries had first switched to curbside service but had to stop because customers were not following the safety rules and putting staff at risk.
    I’m sure there are many different things to consider before the library opens. Quarantining materials, re-spacing things 6 feet apart and making sure that staff have proper safety gear.
    The phased opening chart from the governor does say that libraries can open in Phase 3. http://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/chart-washingtons-phased-approach

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  4. I write as a Sno-Isle Libraries trustee and a devoted customer who most definitely prefers to read “real” ink-on-paper books. I, too, miss having the library open and the books available, but I am newly impressed with how thoughtfully every decision is made.

    The public libraries’ closure supports social distancing, certainly, and also limits access to the many high-touch items in library collections. Just think about how many people handle the books, magazines, computers, kiosks, and furniture in the library.

    Now, Sno-Isle Libraries is watching carefully for guidance from state and local health authorities regarding in-person library services. The Governor’s message on May 1, announced that the stay at home orders are extended until May 31 and that there is a plan for a phased approach to reopening businesses and other organizations. [Here is the link: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-05/PhasedReopeningChart.pdf ] Washington libraries are listed as opening to the public with some limitations in phase 3. The timeline for returning to full library services is still unknown.

    Library leadership is working closely with other libraries throughout the area, the American Library Association, and the CDC, planning for the safe handling of library materials and a staged return. The likely next phase, as restrictions are lifted, is for a few staff members to work on site to ready the library for opening and provide some curbside pickup service.

    Meanwhile, with the libraries closed to the public and all in-person events canceled until further notice, library staff have been doing an incredible job to moving as many services, programs, resources and events as possible online —even storytimes! For me, this has been a time to expand my technological horizons. I have discovered Kanopy for streaming movies and Libby for audiobooks. And did you know there is free Wi-Fi in all of the Sno-Isle libraries parking lots?

    I think Sno-Isle Libraries has done a stellar job of caring for the safety and welfare of the staff and everybody in the communities, while expanding services as much as possible. But, when all is said and done, I look forward to seeing you at the library in person, safe and sound, whenever that’s possible.

    You can get more information at https://www.sno-isle.org/ or call 360-651-7096.

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  5. I’ve noticed that when I search the Sno-Isle catalog, the results do currently default to electronic materials. However it’s super easy to clear that filter by clicking the black “Access online X” button that’s just about dead-center in the screen, right above the list of results. Bingo! All formats are now listed, and can be placed on hold. I hope that’s helpful!

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