Select libraries in New Castle County will reopen Monday, April 12, with in-person services available 2½ days a week, the county announced today.
The schedule for each branch is posted as a Google doc. No library will be open on Sundays.
Patrons are asked to limit visits to 20 minutes. They will be able to browse the new materials collection, check out materials, place and pick up holds and register for library cards.
Guards will ensure that masking and social distancing mandates and building capacities are followed, as well as handle problematic patron issues.
Libraries will also offer public computer and printer use, with a focus on adult patrons who may be lacking Internet access. Patron are encouraged to make appointments for computer usage, which will be scheduled in 45-minute intervals to allow for cleaning.
During this stage, in-person programs will not be held in libraries, and meeting rooms and study rooms will not be available to the public for reservation.
This is the first phase of reopening and as vaccination eligibility expands, county officials expect in-person hours to be added. Approximately half of the county library staff have received their first vaccination.
Delaware’s public libraries are run by a variety of governments, and some downstate libraries have already opened up to patrons. They include the libraries in Bethany Beach, Georgetown, Greenwood, Lewes, Milford, Milton, Rehoboth Beach and Smyrna.
The Google doc that the county prepared includes more opening days for the North Wilmington and downtown Wilmington libraries, which are run by the city of Wilmington.
“We are very excited to reopen library doors to our guests,” County Executive Matt Meyer said in the announcement. “It’s been a long year without our libraries, and I am so proud of the ways our libraries and librarians have continued to serve our public throughout the pandemic, and now it’s time to welcome our patrons back.”
From implementation in mid-June through March, curbside delivery provided almost 700,000 items to patrons,” said Diana Brown, New Castle County’s manager of libraries. “Now, as we transition back to normal operations over the coming months, we look forward to seeing all the faces we have missed.”
All county libraries will continue to offer free wireless broadband Internet service in their parking lots, as well as introduce a service provided through a grant from the Delaware Division of Libraries for checkout of Chromebooks and Hotspots to library patrons.
The libraries have established multiple safety and security policies.
For you and the staff
All staff, visitors and patrons over the age of 2 will be required to wear masks.
Patrons and staff must maintain a six-foot physical distance from others.
Staff will be provided with required PPE.
Staff will be encouraged to participate in COVID-19 testing onsite weekly as provided by the county at least through the end of the summer.
Staff will be encouraged to receive vaccinations as soon as they are eligible.
Staff will be encouraged to follow safety protocols when they are outside of the library as well as when they are inside it.
Risk management protocols will be followed in response to confirmed COVID-19 cases and reported exposures.
For the buildings
Library spaces have been temporarily reconfigured to maintain social distance and provide for the required 72-hour quarantine of returned library materials.
Shields have been installed in staff and public areas where needed to maintain adequate distance between individuals.
In addition to daily cleaning, day porter service for the cleaning of bathrooms and high touch services will be provided during times the library is open to the public.
Computer keyboards and mice will be cleaned after each patron use. Plastic keyboard covers will be available.
Bipolar ionization units have been added to HVAC systems. The devices purify the air by eliminating airborne particulates, odors and pathogens and have been proven to be 99.4% effective against COVID 19, the county said. Air filters will be replaced every 6 weeks.