Public library spent pandemic cleaning and organizing, now open again to public

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program launches at the Fairview Public Library on Jan. 27, 2018, as Library Manager Chris Burkholder reads an entertaining books to Zachary Chia (left), and Dawson Coady. JOANNE McQUARRIE

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The Fairview Public Library closed May 18 due to COVID-19, and although the doors were closed to the public, patrons were still able to access e-resources through the TRACpac database.

Many patrons took advantage of downloadable books, audio books, magazines and virtual learning through Lynda.com.

Now that the public library has reopened to the public, the amount of people allowed in the library at one time will be limited.

“Even though the doors were closed to the public, many called to learn how to begin downloading and reading on their tablets,” said Library Manager Chris Burkholder.

“Not everyone embraced the downloadable formats, and many just read what they had at home.”

During the pandemic, Peace Library System offered free e-library cards. The library had patrons that did not normally use the library regularly sign up for a free e-library card. The library is hoping that these new individuals will continue to utilize the resources the library has to offer.

“I came in every weekday to take care of the emails, government courier and office duties,” said Burkholder. “During the time, we were closed the staff also came in and we cleaned every shelf, stack and furniture.”

The Fairview Public Library generally does this in the summer, but the staff agreed this was a good time to complete this while they were closed to the public.

The library managers also had extra time to re-order books and weed through the library’s collection. The staff was able to find time to relabel collections, clean and reorganize the storage room in the basement of the library.

The library had had a flood in the building last fall, and it was an optimal time to reorganize and clean out the storage room.

One major change that the library encountered during the pandemic was the prohibition of the interlibrary loan system.

Before COVID-19 the library sent and received books daily for patrons and those around the province.

“We had a great system in place, and it worked well,” Burkholder said. “With the closure of the library, it grinded to a halt. We no longer could receive or send any items out.”

Now that the public library has opened again to patrons, the interlibrary loan system has changed dramatically. The library now only received two courier runs a week.

“This is somewhat problematic as we have to quarantine all of our items for 72 hours,” Burkholder said. “We also have to quarantine all the items our patrons bring back.”

The library staff sanitize each item after the three-day quarantine and then the item is either shelved or sent to another library.

As of May 12, the library began to offer curbside pickup of materials. The library plans to continue this service for anyone who does not yet feel comfortable being in a public space.

The library’s reopening was a detailed process, Burkholder explained. The library was required to create a pandemic response plan that staff and patrons are required to follow. There guidelines are required by the Medical Officer of Health.

“We opened with taking out our visiting and seating areas. We do not currently promote visiting or groups of people coming in to use the library. We are limiting the number of patrons who can come in to keep a safe environment for both staff and patrons,” Burkholder added.

“We currently are not running any inhouse programs as it is difficult to social distance.”

Seniors and those who are immune compromised can come to the library at 11 a.m. as long as they call ahead at 780-835-2613.

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