One of the biggest questions we get these days is, “When are you going to open the library?” We love serving our community and want to be able to provide resources in all the ways that we used to. However, we have to make the safety of our community and our staff our absolute priority.
The library is a beloved space in Taylor for many reasons. For many people, we act as a “third space”– one of those special places between work-life and home-life– where you can get work done, meet with friends, and enjoy being around the company of others, all without having to buy a single thing. This is also one of the reasons why it can be so dangerous for us to open our doors to the public in the midst of the pandemic. Over the past few months, we have been working out new ways to operate that will lower the special risks that a public library can pose.
We have outlined a phased plan for opening that follows the MI Safe Start Plan that the State of Michigan has implemented. This plan sets up certain interventions depending on the rate of transimission and community spread in our region. As we move from phase to phase, different library services are added or put on pause. Please check our COVID-19 Response page for any updates to our service offerings.
Computers & Printing
One of the most important services we offer is our computer lab. It is more common than people realize for members of our community to not have internet or a personal computing device at home. In this new era where more and more services are moving online, it was important to us that we find a way to safely provide a public computer lab. In our permanent setup, we realized early that our computer stations were too close together to provide sufficient social distancing, so staff began to plan for a temporary socially-distanced lab, which (as of publishing) is currently open by appointment. This lab utilizes laptop chromebooks which are fully-sanitized after every use. It is set up in our large event space, so people can maintain an adequate distance. A staff member is stationed in this space the entire day, so it is important that all of our patrons wear their masks appropriately to keep our staff members and neighbors safe.
If you need to make use of our printing services, you do not have to come in to the library to do so. You can submit print requests through our online printing form and pick them up curbside. At this time, we cannot provide faxing or copying requests due to the amount of cleaning and money-handling required of both those processes.
Checking Out Books
Another key service we provide is our books. Testing has indicated that a 4-day quarantine of all our materials is adequate to remove all traces of the COVID-19 virus. Please DO NOT try to sanitize library materials on your own! Now, when you return your books, we quarantine all materials for 4 days after they have been handled by another person. You might notice that it takes a few days for items to be removed from your account when you return them to our outdoor dropbox. Your items must pass through the proper quarantine period before our staff can handle them. When items in good condition are checked back in, you will not have any late fees on your library account.
At this current phase, we are only offering curbside pickup, because (in addition to decreasing face-to-face interactions) this limits the number of materials that need to be quarantined. When we eventually open for browsing again, all materials that anyone touches (even if they don’t check them out) need to be quarantined, and that is going to take a lot of effort to maintain. Everyone will have to be as conscientious about returning anything they touch as they are about keeping their face masks on, and we know that’s going to take time to get used to.
Until then, we are offering an online survey to help us pick out books for you. If you are one who likes to browse to find your next book, let us find something for you to enjoy. If you know exactly what you want, feel free to place holds on our online catalog or give us a call.
Lastly, one of the big areas of concern in a large public building is regular cleaning. Before the pandemic, we relied on a small cleaning crew to maintain our building afterhours, but there is so much more cleaning that now has to take place throughout the day. At this time, we are taking a midday break for all of our staff to clean high traffic areas of the building.
We also used our time during our building closure to take on a few important facilities updates. This includes the addition of new automatic front doors, installation of self-checkout machines, improved air handling from a new HVAC system, and the completion of our Community Rooms for large-scale events.
When will we open?
We will open for browsing when the risks associated with library services are much lower. We know how important our building is to the life of the community, but we hope that you continue to take advantage of our growing digital services until all in-person services can resume.