GRAB AND GO - Library patron Tina Johnson, left, and Joanna Perensovich, information services librarian, wear masks in the Sitka Library this afternoon. The library no longer has couches for patrons, but does have computer desks widely spaced apart for people to access for one-hour periods. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Library Reopening with Anti-Virus Rules

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka Public Library will open its doors to the public again on Wednesday, with rules and procedures in place to prevent and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

They include the request that visitors wear face coverings, stay away when sick and keep a six-foot distance from others. There is also a “no lingering” rule, and the library staff will regularly sanitize the building.

“I think we have a really great plan,” said library director Jessica Ieremia. “We’re ready.”

Jessica Ieremia is the new Sitka library director. (Sentinel Photo)

The library closed its doors March 15 when the city administrator declared a coronavirus disaster emergency, backed by an Assembly resolution the next day.

Limited services continued, with some staff working from home and some at the library, but the building remained closed to the public.

The new hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday for walk-in service. The building will be closed Sunday through Tuesday to allow for cleaning, but walk-up window service will be available.

Ieremia said library staff members have been hearing from many people wishing to get back inside.

“We have gotten a lot of interest from people wanting to come back into the building to browse,” she said. “They’re looking forward to getting on the computer. A lot of people use the library as their office. A lot of people have missed that part of the library.”

The services that started after the library closed its doors for the pandemic are still available for those still wanting to stay out of public spaces. That includes having books placed on hold for pickup, or asking library staff for help making selections. Patrons also can call for help.

“People can just come to the window, and do the same things,” Ieremia said.

There is a one-hour limit on computer use, and waiting inside for the computers is not allowed. Two cafe tables are available for those using wifi inside the building. The teen room has one cafe table and two computers. Most of the seating has been removed to discourage “lingering.”

Face coverings are requested but not required.

“We’re asking for masks to help keep us open,” Ieremia said. “If there are too many individuals coming in and not adhering to guidelines, lingering, not social distancing, we’ll have to take a look to see if it’s still safe to have the building open. It’s going to be different but it’s a great operation plan we have in place. If everyone follows our guidelines we’ll be able to safely open.”

In addition to limiting staff numbers in the building, and limiting days the building is open to the public, Ieremia said the staff is taking other steps to keep the building safe, such as frequent sanitizing of environmental surfaces.

She said she’s looking forward to seeing some new faces among the visitors.

Ieremia is from Petersburg, and she was a programming librarian in her hometown for ten years before coming to Sitka three months ago.

She has a master’s degree in library and information sciences from Emporia State University in Kansas, and an undergraduate degree in biological anthropology from the University of Washington. She also worked as a researcher at U of W and later was a stay-at-home mom with a daughter and a son.

She said the decision to become a librarian was an easy one.

“When I was thinking about going back to work and getting my master’s, I was at the library all the time with my kids,” she said. “I had a bunch of library friends. So when I came back to work, that’s what I did.”

So far her time in Sitka has been going well. “It’s incredible. I feel I have the best job in the world. I couldn’t have picked a better field to be in.”

For more information about library services the public may call 747-4020.


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-10-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of noon Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 51

Total statewide – 1,323

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 5 (2 resident; 3 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 13 (11 resident; 2 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 80.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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