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Peter White Public Library Board OKs reopening plan

Services, access to be phased in over time

The facade of the Peter White Public Library in the city of Marquette is pictured. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Peter White Public Library discussed a reopening policy and plan that was approved Tuesday by the Library Board of Trustees.

PWPL plans to have staff onsite beginning June 1 to conduct staff training and prepare for reinstalling some onsite services, and then opening its doors June 8.

“This will change if there are other executive orders that address libraries. We are working closely with the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Library Association to interpret the executive orders, and how they impact the PWPL,” PWPL Director Andrea Ingmire said in an email. “So far, it looks like opening curbside services on June 8 is a reasonable timeline… If we are able to start curbside June 8 — the hours that week will be quite limited, giving us enough time to work out all the kinks in our new services.”

From June 8-13, PWPL will offer curbside pickup services from noon to 4 p.m. and starting June 15, hours will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. This schedule will be put in place until the library is able to fully open to the public, Ingmire said.

PWPL discussed a six-stage plan to reopen its services to curbside pickup.

“You will notice from our reopening plan that we will be running curbside and other low-contact services as Stage 3, and I anticipate we will stay in Stage 3 of our plan for a month at a minimum. There are some libraries in the U.P. (that) have already said they are targeting September for allowing patrons into their facility (which begins in Stage 4 of our plan),” she said. “We have not set a timeline like that yet, but I can’t see it happening before August to be completely honest. Once we open the facility to the public, even if we’re capping the number of people who can enter, the level of cleaning required just goes through the roof. I’m concerned that we won’t have enough staff to keep up.”

Library services will be rolled out in a “controlled way,” Ingmire noted.

Unlike retail and restaurants, libraries are based in a “philosophy of shared resources: shared materials, shared computers and shared spaces,” she said, adding, it is a great philosophy, but difficult to manage in this current pandemic. Patrons will not be able to return library materials yet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends library materials quarantine for a period of one to three days.

PWPL plans to quarantine all returns for a minimum of three days, she said.

Shared computers is also another area of concern, Ingmire said, explaining that PWPL will be rolling out print pickups with the curbside services. PWPL is also seeking grant funding to help purchase technology for checkout, as funding is an issue at the moment, she said.

Shared spaces will not be available for a while as PWPL needs to take things step by step to ensure safety of visitors, Ingmire noted. New services for book and activity kits will be incorporated. PWPL is also asking patrons to weer masks at curbside pickup. Once stage 4 is put in place, library officials will require masks inside the library and they will restrict how many people can be in the library at a time, and limit access to the building to one floor.

“Our staff is very concerned about the safety of our community. We’ve been talking, since March, about how we can safely re-open and continue to provide the services that our community needs from us. It’s all so complicated, but I do know that we have a lot of great minds working on this, and we will do our very best to provide services in a safe manner,” she said. “… I know that we are all grieving the loss of our previous ‘normal,’ and it’s difficult to see what the future might look like. Things will be different here at the library. Probably for a long while. Some of the things that people love the best about PWPL are the most difficult to re-implement. We simply are a long way off from folks being able to come in and spend hours reading and lounging at PWPL. I’ve heard patrons compare using the library to how they use shared spaces of their homes. It is a wonderful thing to have this level of comfort in a public space. Sadly, that level of public use is very difficult to manage in this pandemic.”

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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