By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH – Book browsers, get ready! The Northborough Free Library has a reopening date of Monday, May 3.
This comes after the Library Trustees met on April 13 and approved plans, which will still have some safety restrictions in place.
Library Director Jenn Bruneau’s April report to the trustees outlined plans and changes to the library’s service models. The understanding is that procedures will have to be adjusted to maximize service and maintain safety for all patrons and staff amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been so happy this week,” said Bruneau when reached for comment about the reopening approval. “There is just no substitute for in-person browsing.”
Patrons will be allowed to browse the collections, pick up holds, print, photocopy and make appointments for computer use. However, meeting and quiet study rooms will remain closed and in-person programs will not be held yet.
Browsing and computer appointment hours will be Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with extra hours on Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. Patrons are asked to limit their time to 45 minutes to enable others the use of the library.
Hours and occupancy levels will be gradually adjusted as allowed. But for now, they will be limited to a maximum of 25 people and no more than five computer appointments. Masks will be mandatory.
Bruneau said she went with a lower capacity limit to start in order to test the newly created procedures and to be able to ensure that they work.
“Then we can gradually increase capacity limits to accommodate a more typical library experience,” she said.
Curbside pickup and Library on the Go services will continue.
Patrons will, however, see a few changes, such as options for self-checkout. Three kiosks will allow for contactless transactions, and patrons can download the MeeScan app to their smartphones to check out materials.
There will be a staff member greeting patrons at the door, guiding and reorienting them to the library. Hand sanitizer and extra masks will be available.
Another layer of confidence for all is that all eligible staff will have had their second vaccine doses by May 3.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said there is minimal risk of COVID-19 transmission from a surface or object. Still, Bruneau said in her report that staff will continue to sanitize frequently touched surfaces. Patrons are encouraged to take proper precautions.
Kids’ programming is what Bruneau said people want back the most. But it’s simultaneously also what she worries about the most.
“We want to make sure it is as safe as it reasonably can be before we bring back any in-person programming, especially for kids under 16,” she said.
Additional outdoor programs are planned for spring and summer, including an outdoor book sale on Saturday, May 29.
In the fall, Bruneau hopes to gradually bring programming back inside.
Bruneau is grateful for the continued support of the library and staff by the community over the last year.
“It’s an overwhelming reminder that people love and miss the library,” she said.