Wapiti libraries partially reopen

EAST CENTRAL — Several east central libraries have been officially reopened, with limited capacity made available.

“Limited capacity means that we have evaluated the libraries and taken into account how many people we think can be safely moving around the library while still maintaining social distancing,” said Lindsay Baker, community services librarian with Wapiti Regional Library.

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“So each branch we’ve set a very conservative number to start for how many can be in at one time.”

As of July 13, libraries operating under limited capacity in the region include White Fox Public Library, Melfort Public Library, Kinistino Public Library, Humboldt Reid-Thompson Public Library, Naicam Public Library, Nipawin Public Library, Choiceland Public Library, Porcupine Plain Public Library, Wakaw Public Library, and the Tisdale Public Library.

The maximum capacity available is ten, but may be less depending on the library.

“Individual branches of course had input on what they could safely handle.”

Libraries operating under appointment only in the region include Gronlid Public Library, Carrot River Public Library, Bjorkdale Public Library, and the Arborfield Public Library.

As of July 20, the St. Brieux Public Library will also open by appointment.

The appointment basis allows single patrons into the library for 15 minute visits to browse and check out material.

“That means the patrons phone to schedule when they can come into the library, so that we only have one patron in the library at one time— or a mother with a small child, that sort of thing,” Baker said.

“Our first priority is always the safety of our staff and the safety of our patrons.”

Libraries that are remaining under curbside pickup for the time being include Archerwill Branch and Mistatim Public Library.

Curbside pickup locations were determined based on the assessment that social distancing at them is “virtually impossible.”

They are planned to remain this way until such time that social distancing protocols have relaxed.

When books are returned, regardless of the stage of reopening the library is at, policy dictates that the books are to be handled by gloves and put in a 72 hour quarantine to kill the virus.

Any surface the book has come into contact with is then cleaned.

“So by the time they get back into the hands of the patron they have been set into quarantine for longer than the basic recommendations are for items— since the medical community seems to agree that it takes about two days for the virus to die.”

At this time no programming will be held at Wapiti branch libraries, but the region’s summer programming will continue online.

Patrons are being encouraged to contact their local library during regular open hours to determine what service will be provided.

Details about the region’s reopening, summer programming, and branch contact information can be found on the Wapiti Regional Library website at www.wapitilibrary.ca.

“We’re happy that we’re able to get back to some in-person service again,” Baker said. “We had the online access continuing since the shutdown started, but we understand, especially in our rural communities, online access isn’t always enough.”

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