Nova Scotia

Check it out: N.S. libraries meeting with public health to discuss reopening

Nova Scotia library heads are meeting with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang Tuesday morning to figure out when they can start reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Even with COVID-19 closures, some libraries in Nova Scotia have found ways to get books to patrons

Karen Cook of Bridgewater's Margaret Hennigar Library tries out the new safety protocol as staff prepare to reopen. (Submitted by South Shore Public Libraries)

Nova Scotia library managers are meeting with Dr. Robert Strang Tuesday morning to figure out when they can start reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Troy Myers, chief librarian of South Shore Public Libraries, said his branches have been offering curbside pickup and delivery since March.

"Demand has been fantastic. We've also proven that we can share material safely and securely," Myers said Monday.

He's eager to share what they've learned with the other libraries across the province, which have shut down completely. He said Tuesday's meeting with Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, will be a big step toward reopening branches.

"COVID is going to be with us for a long time and I think that public libraries can play a really important role to teach kids how to share space safely and respectfully," Myers said. "We're ready to go. We can't wait to open our doors again."

Troy Myers is the chief librarian at South Shore Public Libraries. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

South Shore staff are returning to the buildings this week to get used to the new protocols. Myers said they've installed glass barriers at the desks, moved furniture to make passageways wider, added keyboard covers that are easily cleaned, and removed toys. They will provide masks and gloves for staff and for patrons who want them.

Halifax Public Libraries just started a pilot contactless curbside pickup program at the Sheet Harbour Public Library and Woodlawn Public Library.

Debbie Lebel, senior manager of access, said patrons of those branches who had a hold way back in March will be called or emailed by the library. They'll be told when to stop by the library and a staff member will deliver the book, much like click-and-collect groceries work.

"That will free up space and get things moving in our system because we share our collection among 14 branches. There were a lot of things in motion when we shut out doors," she said.

Once those holds are distributed, and assuming everything goes well, they'll expand services at those branches to let patrons borrow new materials.

Branches of the South Shore Public Libraries will provide masks and gloves for staff and for patrons who want them. (Andreas Gebert/Getty Images)

"It's all intended to be contactless," Lebel said. "We want to make sure this is a safe process for both members of the community and our staff."

They hope to expand contactless curbside pickup to other branches "soon." They expect people to stick to their local branches and wait for them to start, rather than travelling to the pilot branches.

Halifax Public Libraries has not yet said when it hopes to reopen the branches to visitors.

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