Local libraries gradually restore services with safety in mind

Local libraries gradually restore services with safety in mind

The public libraries of Wallingford, Southington, and Cheshire have all remained steadily cautious throughout the pandemic with limited services, while the Meriden Public Library remains closed.

Meriden Public Library, 105 Miller St., has been closed to the public since the outbreak despite state guidelines allowing libraries to reopen as part of the Phase II protocol back in June. Since then, the library has been serving the public with a curbside pickup for books and virtual resources.

“But we anticipate we’ll be moving to phase 2 ... to appointments only until we can meet the standards for the COVID checklist,” said Meriden Library Director Clevell Roseboro II.

The time frame for reopening to the public is two to four weeks, Roseboro added. However, between the library’s renovations and efforts to ensure safety, he added, there is still some uncertainty as to what decisions will be made.

Books hold their own distinct place when it comes to ensuring safety. According to a test report as part of the Reopening Archives, Libraries and Museums (REALM) project, the coronavirus was not detectable on library materials after three days of quarantine.

“We’re quarantining all of our returns, books, DVDs and CDs for four days essentially,” said Wallingford Library Assistant Director Julie Rio.

Libraries in Meriden, Cheshire and Southington are also quarantining materials, from four to seven days before being open to public circulation.

Both Cheshire and Wallingford have allowed limited book browsing for residents, requiring that they remain masked at all times. Kristi Sadowski, executive director at the Southington Public Library, said it has allowed public access to the computer and business areas and reference desk by appointment only.

Social distancing has also been promoted, with curbside pickup, the closing of lounge spaces and study tables and a limited number of computers available.

Sadowski also said although the library’s been able to make accommodations for walk-ins, she strongly encourages residents to call and make an appointment for computer use. Residents can use the computers for either 15 to 30 minutes or an hour total.

Cleaning and sanitation have become a standardized practice at the libraries. The Wallingford Public Library closes for two hours midday for a scheduled cleanup. Computers are wiped down after each use including keyboards, monitors and desk area.

In Southington, Sadowski said: “We also have a station with cleaning products, santizer for the computers and there are signs next to every computer encouraging people to wipe it down themselves before use to guarantee that it’s been cleaned because we can’t guarantee we can get to each in between.”

Since the outbreak, almost all programming and events at these four public libraries have moved to virtual, with an expanding ebook database and resource services for residents.

Cheshire Public Library Director Beth Crowley has said starting Oct. 3 the library will be moving toward more in-person services during its evening and Saturday hours.

Southington Library’s events and programs will remain virtual for the remainder of the calendar year.

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