Libraries across the Lakeland are re-opening this week following last Monday’s easing of some COVID-19 restrictions by the province.
The provincial regulations regarding libraries are straightforward – 15 per cent of fire code capacity not including staff, but there is a variation from community to community depending on each particular library’s capabilities.
In St. Paul, the Town of St. Paul Municipal Library is re-opening to patrons as of Mar. 9. According to library manager Eunhye Cho, the facility is resuming their regular operating hours going forward with most services available in person.
“It will pretty much be similar to what we had before shutdown. So we will be offering computers for anyone who needs to use them and then once you have removed a book from the shelf we ask patrons to place it on the shopping cart instead of putting it back on the shelf,” said Cho.
“We will be continuing to offer curbside pick up for those patrons who may not be comfortable coming inside yet, or who are unable to mask,” said Cho.
She said the library’s fire code capacity is 180 people, so they can have up to 27 people inside as patrons, plus staff. Ordinarily, there is a maximum of three staff in the building at once.
According to Cho, the library is still discussing how to resume in-person programming safely so most programs are still taking place virtually with kits and books available for pick-up at the front desk.
Among programs happening virtually right now are the “Random Acts of Science,” “Take and Make” kits, and “Crafternoons,” as well as virtual storytimes with Monique, the library’s programmer.
All programming is free of charge but many things require pre-registration which you can do by calling the library at 780-645-4904.
“We’re looking forward to seeing patrons again very much. But we are not out of the woods yet so please maintain the six-foot distancing and the masking and the rest of what we need to be able to be healthy, the restrictions are still in place,” said Cho.
Bonnyville and Cold Lake
In Bonnyville and Cold Lake, the libraries re-opened on Monday. According to Bonnyville library manager Leah Woodford they are on a slightly modified schedule with the library operating from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.
“We used to be open on Saturdays, but because of COVID we’re just closed on the weekends right now,” said Woodford.
Like St. Paul, the Bonnyville library will be continuing to offer curbside pick-up for patrons who need it. Woodford said they will be able to have 15 patrons in the building at once.
“And that’s to utilize the collection as well as printing and photocopying services and faxing. We do have computer stations and study stations open with distancing measures in place but they have to be reserved in advance,” said Woodford.
She said the preference is for patrons to make their reservations for computer and study stations by calling ahead and booking a specific time slot. They are also able to offer exam invigilation services by appointment.
According to Woodford programming will be continuing online for now through the library’s website and social media pages.
“We’re so happy to be able to see the patrons face-to-face and continue to serve them the way that they need, not just by curbside. I think it’s [re-opening] really positive for everybody,” said Woodford.
A notice on the Elk Point Library’s website says they will be re-opening as of Mar. 16 with service available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
“Children under the age of 7 will not be permitted into the library at this time, we also encourage younger kids to be accompanied by a parent. This helps us limit the number of touched surfaces and the amount of cleaning that needs to be focused on the children’s area. Families are encouraged to continue using the curbside service,” reads the notice.
One computer will be available for use, but patrons need to call ahead to reserve a 30-minute time slot. Curbside pick up will also continue to be available.
Lac La Biche
The library in Lac La Biche adopted a multi-stage re-opening process. According to library director Maureen Penn the main location will not be open for in-person service until Mar. 15, but they are available by appointment for exam proctoring and computer access as of Mar. 8.
“We are looking forward to seeing all our patrons, including the high school students,” said Penn.
When the library does re-open, it will be from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a capacity of 43 people.
“Most of our programming will be continuing via zoom, but we are hopeful that our summer literacy program will be able to run with a combination of in person and zoom activities since it does meet the provincial requirements for tutoring,” said Penn. She said most programming is expected to remain online until at least the fall.
She noted memberships are still free and can be renewed over the phone, and curbside pick up will continue to be available.
According to Penn, the Plamondon branch will begin offering curbside pick up as of April 6.