Wake libraries reopening with new pandemic guidelines
Posted November 12, 2020 5:41 p.m. EST
Updated November 13, 2020 11:14 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Wake County Public Libraries are welcoming people back inside at eight branches this month.
The East Regional Library in Knightdale, Eva Perry Regional Library in Apex and Northeast and Southeast regional libraries in Raleigh and Garner, respectively, are already open.
On Monday, the Cameron Village library in Raleigh and the West Regional Library in Cary will open their doors, followed by the North Regional Library in Raleigh and the Cary Regional Library on Nov. 23.
Demand has been high for curbside delivery of books, and library officials decided the time was right to do a safe, phased reopening.
When guests enter, they are welcomed by a security officer to do a brief health screening and get a temperature check. Patrons are asked to limit their visit to 30 minutes. Everyone over the age of 5 will be asked to wear a mask.
“We really strive to try and meet our customers at their own comfort level,” said Ann Burlingame, deputy library director.
Burlingame said the express visits are part of a strategic, three-phase reopening plan that began with a successful virtual library, followed by curbside pickup.
“We had 915,000 requests placed for books on the go and 220,000 appointments to come pick up books,” she said.
While the desire to check out a hardcover book is in high demand, the need for public internet accessibility is even greater.
“It’s so significant," Burlingame said. "When we were looking at providing internet access, we had a couple of challenges."
That’s where the 30-minute express experience comes into play. Staff will help patrons find exactly what they need online or on the shelves.
“Our bookshelves look more like the cereal aisle in the grocery store, because everything’s faced out," she said. "We want you to get in [and] get your books quickly, but also be able to browse.”
The libraries also feature signage on the floors, plexiglass on the tables and computer stations that have been spread out.
Lounge furniture, tables and chairs have been removed, and meeting rooms, quiet study rooms, newspapers and magazines will not be offered. Computers will be available at some libraries, but use will be limited to 30 minutes.
For those who still prefer the virtual library or curbside pick up during the pandemic, those options will still be available, Burlingame said.