In less than 10 days, the Dayton Metro Library will reopen its 18 locations for the first time since March, when they shut down for safety reasons due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Library services will return with some changes that are intended to keep staff and the nearly 200,000 monthly visitors safe while the virus remains a threat.
“Our plans remain flexible and subject to change as we re-institute library services,” said Tim Kambitsch, executive director of the Dayton Metro Library. “As much as we try to anticipate all scenarios, we know that the situation is constantly evolving.”
The Dayton Metro Library’s 18 facilities will reopen on July 7, nearly four months after they were closed.
This includes the new Trotwood branch, which was supposed to have its grand opening on March 13, but the library system decided that day to close all of its branches.
The libraries will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, though the first hour of each day will be reserved for elderly and medically vulnerable people.
The guest experience will feel different, since each facility will have capacity limits, staff will wear masks and visitors will be offered disposable face coverings.
Each facility will have hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass dividers at the service desks.
Staff will disinfect public equipment between uses, and programming such as classes and storytime will remain suspended. Meeting and community rooms will not be made available, officials said.
The library system, which had 2.3 million visitors last year, will continue to offer “curbside service” that allows people to pickup materials they request in advance.
The Dayton Metro Library is upgrading its mobile app, which will now have an option that allows people to reserve materials for curbside pickup, either on foot or in a vehicle. Previously, people had to call to reserve materials for pickup.
All returned materials will continue to be quarantined for 72 hours before they can be checked out again. Research suggests the virus naturally dies on paper and cardboard surfaces within that time period.
Library visitors checked out 5.6 million items last year, and they also used library computers for about 539,000 sessions.
Staff routinely provides 1-on-1 customer service, oftentimes to patrons on the computer, Kambistch, and employees will be able to use mobile plastic shields/screens to get close enough to assist visitors.
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Staff also will be able to use remote monitoring software that allows them to view patrons’ computer screens without having to stand over their shoulders, he said.
Common assistance staff provides to visitors include help drafting cover letters, uploading resumes, filling out online applications and locating information, Kambitsch said.
Social distancing will be necessary to keep people safe, and the library system wants parents to accompany their children to the facilities to help prevent the spread of infection, he said.
Oftentimes, libraries act as “daycare centers of last resort,” which is not ideal because children may not understand the importance of keeping a safe social distance from others, he said.
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