The staff at the Chestermere Public Library is working to ensure expectations are met when the time is right to reopen to patrons.
“We’re still working hard behind the scenes, we’re here every day,” said the Chestermere Public Library Acting Director Cathy Burness.
“We do know that at some point, there will be a library that you can come to once again, and after being closed for several months, there are certain expectations that people will have when they come in,” she said.
Adding, “One of them is that the library will be even better organized, and more user friendly. Another is that there is more open space.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chestermere Public Library began pandemic planning and creating new procedures for re-entry when the time is right, reviewing the strategic plan, reaching out to seniors in the community, and applying for grants.
Two mobile shelving units will also be utilized, to ensure when the Chestermere Public Library hosts a story time or a large event in the future, there is an additional three feet of space available.
“Re-entry is going to look different than it does for a retail store, it will involve different stages of opening,” Burness said.
“We can’t just open the doors, so many things will have to be altered in order to facilitate safe practices,” she added.
Currently, the Chestermere Public Library is reviewing curbside pick-up for residents to pick-up any items they have on hold or return any items.
“Anything we do will have to be passed by the board, then by the Chestermere Emergency Management Agency (CHEMA), to make sure that they are happy with any of our protocols because that is extremely important to us, that we’re compliant with the City of Chestermere and the province. We will comply with whatever we are asked to do,” Burness said.
“It’s the board’s decision to do these things, and it’s my responsibility to make sure we do them safely, and that we’re able to offer the best level of service,” she said.
Subject to the approval of the Chestermere Public Library Board and CHEMA, Burness will quarantine any items that come into the library for 72 hours in a specific quarantine area, then clean and sanitize the items.
In addition to applying for grants, the Chestermere Public Library staff have been sorting through the inventory.
“We’ve found books that have water damage, or stained pages, we don’t want to be loaning out items like that, and we also don’t want them on our shelves,” Burness said.
“We’ve been through them very thoroughly to ensure anything that is on the shelve is in decent shape. We’ve also taken off more books that are really old or hasn’t moved off the shelve in the last two years,” she said.
The staffers began going through the non-fiction section, ensuring each book is relevant.
“Space is such a valuable commodity in this instance, because of where we are, we really have to be particular with the books on the shelve, and we have to make sure that we’re offering what people want to read,” Burness said.
“It’s not just willy-nilly, and it’s not just by condition, but it’s based on how many times has this book gone out, and when was the last time,” she said.
Adding, “If I can make space for a book that is going to go out 12 times in a year, by getting rid of a book that hasn’t moved, or has gone out twice in the last two years that’s the better service for the patron.”
While going through the inventory, staffers are also sorting through donations and withdrawn books that can be sold in a book sale when it’s safe to do so.
“We are busy here doing very important work, just not the type of work we normally do. This is the type of thing that gets overlooked,” Burness said.
Moving forward, staff are working to expand the area they have in the library.
“When it’s safe to have a crowd in here, I want to make sure we have space available for that sort of thing,” Burness said.
“For a very long time, people are going to be wary of being too close together, if that is the case, I see that we need more empty space between people no matter what it is we’re doing,” she said.
Burness is thankful for every resident who participated in the Chestermere Public Library strategic plan questionnaire, as the questionnaire was used to build the new strategic plan.
“It gave us a good indication of what our patrons want,” she said.