Library Users Back; Window Stays Open

Category: Local News
Created on Friday, 10 July 2020 15:48

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.