After about a year of being closed to in-person visits due to COVID-19, the Kitsap Regional Library in Bainbridge Island reopened Monday.
“It feels amazing,” Bainbridge branch manager Courtney Childress said. “People are being very kind. They’re being conscientious. We have some rules to follow, and we explain that at our greeter’s station, and people have been very gracious for listening to that.”
However, if you think you can leisurely sit in there all day and read, etc., think again. The library is limiting visits to 45 minutes. Occupancy is limited to 25 percent of capacity. Along with checking out items, you still will have huge benefits in tech services on one of the public computers, being able to print 100 pages and 25 faxes per day.
“We have a capacity of 26 patrons at a time, and that (has) moved beautifully,” Childress said. “We were trying to figure out what would make sense for people to be able to have the amount of time to work on a project, fill out a resume; something on a computer that would be necessary. 45 minutes for browsing felt good just because we have that 26 patron max right now so we need to be able to move people through so that we don’t have a line.”
After only a few days of being open, Childress said she has already been hearing from community members about how excited they are to be back in the library.
“My favorite part has been seeing the kids being able to come in and come down to the children’s section,” she said. “One mother told us that her child was asked to write an essay about where they would go on vacation after COVID was over, and she said the library because, ‘When I’m in the library, I can go anywhere.’ It was so sweet.”
To keep folks safe, returned items will be quarantined for 24 hours. Furniture has been moved to allow for social distancing. Frequently touched areas are being cleaned often. Public computers are cleaned after each use. Hand sanitizer is available, and restrooms will be open for handwashing. Face coverings are required.
“We have people staffed at the service desk to help, and we have our self-checkout stations,” Childress said. “Everything is open, spacious and easy to navigate.”
If you still don’t feel comfortable going to the library, online services will continue through KRL.org. You can Book-a-Librarian for up to 45 minutes for help; you can take virtual classes by connecting on community Zoom projects, discussions and storytimes; you can download audiobooks, ebooks, music and digital magazines anytime day or night; and you can access the library’s online collection of resources.
Curbside services will continue. You can place a hold on an item, make an appointment, and pick it up. And library staff will select 3-10 items just for you and you can pick up those Book Bundles at curbside. Fill out BookMatch online so they know what you like.
“One of our more popular services was Book Bundles where we would do customized bundles for families or adults who wanted different books,” Childress said. “Those were popular enough where we’re going to keep that.”
In terms of increasing the capacity in the future and holding events once again, Childress said they are taking the “one step at a time” approach.
“We’re really using this time to assess what that’s going to look like,” she said. “Obviously, that’s the goal to get back to that sense of normal. We’re working on different ideas with programming (maybe partnering with parks and rec for outdoor events). As far as in-building programming, I don’t have a date yet.”
As Childress reflects on the past year, she is appreciative of the persistence her staff has shown, trying to offer convenient services amid a pandemic.
“All these different processes, and we’re sort of shifting each day to try and meet the needs of the patrons,” she said. “It’s been inspiring. The hardest thing for us really has been trying to follow the rules that limit how we can serve patrons. We want to bring them what they need and having them not be able to come in has been really hard. The focus of the staff has been of course safety first, but also what else can we do.”
The library also offers home delivery for those with significant barriers to using the library. For details call Mobile Services at 360-405-9123. Check out the website to find information about: business, family history, making videos, careers, homework help, tax resources, start a book club and much more.