It’s not just people who are being quarantined after possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. Now, books are, too.
One of the biggest challenges to reopening the Canby Public Library in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis has been the returning of used materials.
Many stores, businesses and even restaurants have solved the problem of being able to safely deliver products and services to the public, while minimizing contact and exposure.
But what about a transaction that goes the other way, with people handling a book for days or weeks, then dropping it into a small, enclosed space with dozens of other materials — which are then received by a small group of city employees?
To this point, the library has dealt with the issue by simply locking the book drop and leaving it closed. All materials that were lent out when the library — along with all city offices and facilities that were open to the public — closed on March 13, have simply remained with whoever happened to have them at the time.
Don’t worry: No fines have been accruing in those two months. But if you’re finally ready to unload them, the library return slot is opening this week.
The book drop will be open to receive library materials only on Mondays, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., starting May 18. They will be quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours before being handled by staff.
“This schedule allows sufficient time for the materials to be safely quarantined prior to being checked in, reshelved and, hopefully, checked out again,” Mayor Brian Hodson explained during a community update on Wednesday. “If you’re tired of having those materials at home, you can now start bringing them back.”
This cracking of the book drop is part of the first phase of the library’s reopening plan, which also includes staff being available for a wide variety of phone assistance from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Just call 503-266-3394.
“Staff members are available to answer questions and provide assistance such as how to download electronic books, online resources and databases to help with your kids’ online classes, how to use popular online meeting tools such as Zoom or how to file your taxes or unemployment forms,” Hodson said.
Staff have already been providing virtual programming, including storytime and other activities, on the library’s website and Facebook page. They have also added instant access to free library materials online. Residents age 5 and older who do not have a library card can register for an eCard.
And for those interested in a non-contact storytime that still offers families the chance to get out and enjoy a little sunshine, check out the library’s “storywalk,” which is offered through the library’s windows on NE 2nd Avenue.
Looking forward, Library Director Irene Green said staff will be able to begin its first contact interactions with patrons once Clackamas County is approved to enter Phase 1 of the governor’s plan for reopening Oregon. At that time, they will start arranging curbside pickup for the more than 270 holds that have been sitting on the shelves for the past two months.
“These are the same holds people couldn’t get when we closed on March 13,” Green told the Canby Now Podcast. “They will be by appointment. It’s goings to take a lot of staff time contacting everyone to see if they still want them and arrange for curbside pickup!”
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