Following the Alberta government's June 9 announcement that Stage 2 of its reopening strategy would commence June 12, Airdrie Public Library (APL) provided details on its plan to reintroduce in-person services.
According to APL Director Pamela Medland, the library began a phased return of distributing books and other material June 15, starting with appointment-only pick-ups on new holds. Beginning June 22, she said, book drop-off will be available around the clock. Curbside pick-up for on-shelf items will also be available.
“We anticipate that will be in place for about three weeks,” she said.
Like other libraries across Alberta, APL closed its doors to the public in mid-March after a State of Local Emergency was declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the library's staff has worked to expand its online resources.
“We’re very proud, not only of the existing ebooks and e-services we already had in place, but we were able to expand our offerings in that area and also develop a very wide-ranging series of online programs,” Medland said. “Mostly video programs, but we recently began to expand into live programming through the use of software like Zoom.”
Medland said she anticipates APL will continue offering online programming “for quite some time” as the pandemic continues.
Unless Alberta experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, Medland said APL is tentatively scheduled to reopen July 6 with modified procedures in place. She added visiting the library after it reopens will be a different experience compared to before the pandemic – capacity will be limited and restrictions will limit how long visitors can stay.
“We’ll have to remove most of our seating and probably 50 per cent of our computers,” she said. “It’s far from the level of service we aspire to offer in Airdrie – and we are very proud of our normal service offerings – but it’s a matter of trying to balance great service with safety.”
She added APL staff is currently working on implementing new health and safety protocols to help prevent any possible transmission of the virus.
“We’re installing acrylic shields and putting the finishing touches on our safety planning protocols," she said. “We have been having endless discussions, watching what libraries are doing all across North America to make sure we’re putting best practices in place.”