Albany Public Library preparing to reopen services

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany Public Library System will start a reopening process beginning next week.

On Monday, staff will begin training on the new safety practices of the library.

The first services will also reopen next week beginning with the library’s drop-box. Items will be quarantined for 72 hours to prevent covid-transmission.

“Libraries for the next six months aren’t going to look like the libraries that we enjoyed in February, but I do think that if we do this wisely and we’re smart in the way that we do this, we’ll get there,” said Albany Public Libraries Executive Director Scott Jarzobek.

There are nine phases in total.

“The most important thing that we as an organization have been trying to model is the fact that we have to do this slowly and with a level of intention,” Jarzombek said.

When doors do fully reopen to the public there will be a strict head count. The public will be greeted to a partition between them and librarians at the front desk.

Librarians will have access to PPE and cleaning items. The public will be required to wear face masks, and for social distancing, tape will be added to the floor.

Jarzombek said they’ve received little guidance for the governor’s office on how to reopen. They’re following the state’s multi-phase reopening process choosing which services of theirs fits within the state reopening guidelines, like curbside delivery.

“I don’t want us to be an irresponsible organization and model irresponsible behavior, so I just hope people are patient, that they see we’re doing the right thing and hopefully that makes them do the right thing in their own life,” Jarzombek said.

Jarzombek said their reopening process will be dictated by Coronavirus infection numbers, something he said he’s closely watching.

Here is a list of the library’s phases:

Phase 1A: Staff Return to Buildings | The buildings will remain closed, but staff will return in alternating shifts. Select buildings (those to be opened in the next phase) will be cleaned and sanitized. Staff will complete job-specific duties and tasks, and continue to deliver virtual services, programs, and materials.

Phase 1B: Alternative Delivery Options for Material | The library will begin to provide physical materials to patrons via curbside pickup at limited locations. Patrons will be able request material online or by phone, and book drops will reopen. UHLS will restart courier delivery service of physical materials among member libraries. The buildings will remain closed to patrons and most other facets of the previous phase will continue.

Phase 2A: Opening of Selected Locations with Patron In-Building Use by Appointment Only | Select library branches will open with reduced hours. In-person library transactions will be done by appointment only. There will be no in-building programs, and no use of meeting rooms or study rooms. Staff will begin limited outreach and coordinated projects with external partners. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 2B: Opening of Selected Locations with Strict Headcount | Select library branches will be open with a strict headcount for the number of patrons allowed inside. The branches will continue to have reduced hours and services. There will still be no programs, meeting rooms, or study rooms. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 3A: Opening of All Locations with Headcount | All library branches will be open with headcounts for the number of patrons allowed inside and limited hours. There will continue to be no programs, meeting rooms, or study rooms. There will be limits on certain services. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 3B: Regular Hours Resume with Headcount | All branches will resume regular operating hours. A strict headcount for the number of patrons allowed in each building will remain in place. There will still be no programs, meeting rooms, or study rooms, along with limits on certain services. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 4A: Unrestricted Regular Hours | Patrons will be allowed into all buildings without a headcount. The branches will continue regular hours. There will still be limits on certain services, along with no programs, meeting rooms, and study rooms. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 4B: Easing Patron Restrictions | Programming begins in the branches on a limited basis with hard caps for attendance and the number of programs offered at each location. Those programs will be open to Albany residents only. Meeting rooms will open with a limit of no more than 10 people per room. Study rooms will remain closed, and there will be limits on certain services. Most facets of the previous phase will remain.

Phase 5: New Normal Operations | Library programming will expand with limits on the number of attendees and number of programs. Meeting rooms will continue with limits on the number of people in the meeting. Study rooms will be open by appointment. Use of computers and equipment will require patrons to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The library will incorporate self-checkout stations. Virtual services, programs, and materials will continue for patrons who cannot or choose not to visit branches in person. Expanded safety and cleaning protocols will continue.


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