SMOOTH SAILING – A troller cruises across Sitka Sound during a hazy sunset Friday evening. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Library Users Back; Window Stays Open

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

Traffic has been “steady” in the first week since the Sitka Public Library reopened its doors for walk-in services, library officials say.

And so far the reopening plan is going well, Sitka Library Director Jessica Ieremia said. 

“People have been respectful,” she said. “People feel like there’s adequate space to stay socially distant while they’re browsing.”

Depending on the week and the season, the library is one of the busiest city buildings, with a regular stream of residents and visitors coming in to browse the shelves, attend programs, use the computers, check out books and spend some quiet time reading or doing research.

City buildings were closed to the public on March 15 when pandemic lockdowns were mandated. Most buildings reopened over time, with safety plans in place to protect workers and the public. The library is one of the last city buildings to reopen, on July 1, although staff members have continued providing many services through the building’s grab-and-go program, and pick-up window.

Ieremia said she’s enjoyed seeing small groups of patrons – including families with small children – back in the library, and she’s received feedback on how much the public appreciates being able to once again browse and use services.

But Ieremia said the ability to stay open will depend on the public.

Masks are requested (and available if people forget to bring them); there are one-hour time limits on cafe tables and computers; and patrons are asked to follow other COVID-19 precautions, such as staying away when sick.

“We’re asking patrons to limit their time inside,” Ieremia said. “And we have window service for people not ready to come inside public buildings. You’re able to check out books or talk to a librarian to figure out what you want.”

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)

Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday for walk-in service.

The building is closed to the public Sunday through Tuesday to allow for extensive cleaning and sanitizing but walk-up window service is available from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

Ieremia said she’s pleased with how the reopening plan has been going.

“It’s really worked out well,” she said. “If we get too many people, we’ll have to re-evaluate.”

She said staff members can only request masks not require them, and the vast majority of patrons have complied. Patrons are also asked to respect the request to stay at least six feet from staff, in compliance with Centers for Disease Control recommendations.

“This is to help us keep our doors open,” Ieremia said of the rules. “We don’t want to close our doors again.”

Those with questions may call 747-4020.

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-4-20)

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 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 59

Total statewide – 3,394

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 17 (12 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 136.

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. 

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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

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

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 sitkasentinel.com. 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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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

The School Board Tuesday discussed district policy on head lice. At present, students found to have head lice are kept from school until all lice are removed. The revised policy allows students who have nits to remain in school, with information on treatment and a nit-removing comb to be sent home with them.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

Legal notice: Sealed bids will be received ... for furnishing and installation of siding on the City
Garage, located on Halibut Point Road. ... City of Sitka, Alaska Fermin Gutierrez, Director of Public Works. 

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