Calgary

Some Calgary public library branches will reopen with physical distancing measures in place

Calgary's libraries are getting set to reopen, with three branches — Crowfoot, Fish Creek and Forest Lawn — opening Tuesday as part of the pilot project. 

Crowfoot, Fish Creek and Forest Lawn branches will open Tuesday

Staff at the Calgary Public Library are preparing for a COVID-safe reopening. (Submitted by Calgary Public Library)

Calgary's libraries are getting set to reopen, with three branches — Crowfoot, Fish Creek and Forest Lawn — opening Tuesday as part of the pilot project. 

They won't be able to tarry but if they observe some common-sense guidelines, bibliophiles will be able to visit certain branches of the library starting tomorrow. 2:18

It will be a phased relaunch, so some library services and areas will remain off limits, and the library is encouraging all patrons to wear a mask.

"There's some services where you're not going to have right when we open, for instance in-person events and programs," said Mary Kapusta, director of public relations. "Those aren't part of our stage yet. Those will come later. Room bookings. We know people love booking our meeting rooms. Those are also not available. You're going to notice furniture is going to be more spread out. That's to allow physical distancing."

Things may also look a little different, with sanitizing stations and book cleaning stations.

Mary Kapusta, director of public relations for the Calgary Public Library, says physical distancing and enhanced cleaning will allow library branches to open safely as part of Phase 2. (Julie Debeljak)

"Cleaning your hands is something we're really, really being quite strict about," Kapusta said. "So as soon as you come to that location, there is signage, there is a table, there are all the supplies you need to clean your hands."

Kapusta said visitor numbers will be monitored and controlled, and patrons are asked to limit their visits to one hour. 

"That's to allow us to have more access to a wider group of the community, because we are going to be heavily metering access, meaning that capacities for all our locations are going to be coming right down."

Computers and printers will be available, with some new measures in place.

"Floor decals are something we're all becoming more familiar with ... so for instance waiting for a printer or computer, picking up your hold, waiting in line to ask one of our staff a question, those are all things that might be different, but we're going to have lots of staff on hand to also help."

A bin for books that have been handled allows the books to be quarantined for 72 hours before returning to the shelves. (Submitted by Calgary Public Library)

Kapusta said staff will be there to direct anyone confused by the decals.

"So it might be, hey, hang on over there on that purple decal, that's where the line begins for computer access."

The library has been closed for three months. Kapusta says that has given staff plenty of time to make a plan, and to study how other facilities have opened safely. One of the key aspects is enhanced cleaning, especially in "high-touch" areas.

"If you've been using an item in the library, or you're not sure what to do with it, we're going to have quarantine areas within the library as well," Kapusta said. "So let's say you've been sitting down reading a book but you're not going to take it out. That's okay — just put in one of those boxes and we can put it through the quarantine process."

When it comes to book returns, people are asked to return books to the same location they were checked out out from. If your branch has not yet reopened, just hold off. 

"No late fines are going to accrue," Kapusta said. "All due dates have been extended to July 30. We're also implementing, as per industry standard, a 72-hour quarantine for all return materials.

The Calgary Public Library is preparing to reopen slowly and carefully during Phase 2. (Submitted by Calgary Public Library)

If you're not comfortable with heading back to the library, you can still access the library online, and order a curbside hold.

"We also know there's going to be people who are, 'maybe not yet.' and that's okay," Kapusta said. "If you have a question we're also promoting our library hotline, that's our phone and chat service where you can get access to tons of resources, tons of support."

With files from Julie Debeljak

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