June 13, 2020
As you may be aware, Governor Sununu’s Economic Reopening Task Force released guidance for libraries (link opens PDF) this past week. Media outlets are now reporting that libraries will open at 50 percent capacity on June 15, 2020, but a reading of the entire document offers more comprehensive information. In fact, many of the task force’s recommendations speak to limiting in-person services whenever possible.
The Governor has been clear that reopening any business/industry is not mandated, and that for libraries any reopening plan is the responsibility of their governing body as designated by NH RSA 202-A. For the Merrimack Public Library, this governing body is our Library Board of Trustees. Additionally, there are no timelines in the guidance from the Governor, just that libraries may open to the public at 50 percent capacity starting June 15, 2020.
Over the past months, the NH Library Association Reopening Task Force has worked hard to create reopening guidelines which are in line with the Governor's document. Using these, I have worked with my staff, our Library Board of Trustees, and the Town Attorneys to create a flexible, phased reopening plan for the Library. While this document places the reopening of the building for limited public access still many weeks out, we have implemented policies and prioritized our services to increase your access as soon as possible while prioritizing staff and public health:
- Staff are required to submit a health assessment to the Director each day before reporting to work.
- Two weeks ago, our book drops opened, and staff have followed careful quarantine procedures when processing these returned materials.
- On Monday, June 15, contact-less curbside pick-up will resume by appointment. More info on this service can be found below.
- We have purchased new protective supplies and are acquiring plexiglass barriers to eventually begin offering limited in-person services, including laptop check out, notary and passport services, and printing and copying pick-up, among others.
- We have added additional outside seating and increased our Wi-Fi reach for patrons to expand their outside visits to the library.
When we do initially open the building to the public, we are advised to set a time limit and a capacity limit, as well as to restrict some areas of the building. This clashes with our goal to serve our community and to be an enjoyable gathering space. It breaks a librarian’s heart. We have heard from so many of you about how much you value and love our library and how much you miss us, and we thank you for that. We miss and love you all as well. We will continue to get through this together.
Yvette Couser, Library Director