As Clallam County reopens to Phase 2 standards, public libraries across the North Olympic Peninsula are slowly restarting check-in and check-out services and other activities — but they are not open for pre-COVID-19 business as usual yet.
The buildings remain closed because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19. But library leaders say they have been working on reopening plans for weeks and are expanding services, including curbside pickup and item returns.
On Wednesday, June 24, the libraries begin curbside service for materials on hold, said NOLS assistant director Noah Glaude, NOLS’s incoming library director. Times are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. through Friday, and from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, June 27.
At the same time, all four North Olympic Library System branches — Sequim Port Angeles, Forks and Clallam Bay — will accept returns of items.
Last week’s effort was intended to encourage getting as many of the 40,000 items out on loan back “so we can play catch-up,” Glaude said.
He emphasized that libraries will not accept donations.
Since returns must be quarantined for 72 hours, they are placed in large boxes that will be set aside indoors until the materials can be made available for use, NOLS staff said.
For holds, notices will be sent out as items are available and recipients will drive to their local libraries to find directional signs telling them how to proceed, Glaude said.
Said Margaret Jakubcin, outgoing library director for NOLS: “Restarting library operations under conditions where transmission of coronavirus remains a continuing concern is an extremely complex matte.
“Retail operations have been leading the way in developing curbside delivery methods,” Jakubcin said. “However, unlike retail operations, where products mostly flow in one direction, libraries have to make provision for safe handling and decontamination of borrowed materials, as they are returned from households throughout the county, and before they are re-shared with others.”
NOLS’s annual Summer Reading Program resumed on June 15. It will be different than in past years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, NOLS representatives say, but will still have a reading challenge with incentives to earn a special NOLS T-shirt, chances to win prizes and virtual events for all ages.
Find more information about how to participate in NOLS’s Summer Reading Program at www.nols.org/srp.
For more about NOLS’s curbside pickups, visit www.nols.org.