LGBTQ+ Books for Your Library
Best LGBTQ+ Books to Have in Your Library
June 10, 2020
Beginning-of-Year Pandemic Preparation
July 30, 2020

Library Guide for Reopening

Many wonder how the new school year will look while the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the 2020-2021 academic year. For many public and school librarians, there are questions as to how to safely open the library and keep it open during this time.

It is hard to predict how the world will look in the coming months. As you plan for new services like curbside pickup, online programming, and spacing out your library, we'll guide you on how to best implement these services to keep students, parents, and staff safe.

*Please keep in mind, these guidelines are not intended to override the CDC or your local health officials. We encourage our educators to use their judgment and follow the policies of leaders.

Librarian's Guide to Reopening During COVID-19

Plan for Reopening

Before you open your library doors, be sure to plan how you are going to reopen your library. Do you need to follow the precautions implemented by your state, school district, or community? Are your patrons part of a high-risk group? Are there services you can make completely remote or offer while implementing social distancing?

Your reopening plans should include preparing your building, such as providing protective equipment to staff like gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer. Preparing can also include deep cleaning each area and posting signage to remind patrons of the new guidelines.

You can also consider adding protective shields between staff and patrons at service desks or check out points in the library. Use floor markers to indicate where patrons can stand to distance between each other.

Lastly, encourage patrons to wash or sanitize their hands often by providing clear signage as reminders. We suggest adding handwashing stations throughout the library, and for areas in which handwashing is not accessible, you should offer hand sanitizer stations.

Educate Staff

Ensure library staff and teachers understand that they must follow the guidelines for disinfecting and preventing the spread of germs. Be sure to provide the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to them by emailing and posting the guidelines in the library.

Work Remotely

You've probably worked remotely at some point over the last few months. Before returning to the library, find out which tasks you need to complete in-person and which you can accomplish remotely.

Access Your Library Software from Home

Entirely web-based, the newest version of Alexandria can be accessed from anywhere, on any device with a proper internet connection. Librarians have more options to view, process, and complete operations from home with the latest version of Alexandria.

Re-evaluate Current Spaces

Staff Work Stations

Try separating staff workstations by at least six feet. Tape guidelines or use floor markers to encourage staff to stay within a designated space. You can add workstations by purchasing additional barcode scanners to reduce the number of shared touchpoints between staff members.

Cut down on the number of people gathering in one spot by converting meeting rooms into makeshift workspaces, encouraging telework, and holding meetings via videoconferencing.

Computer Stations

If you cannot add barriers in between computers, try removing some of your computers or moving them to different areas to separate patrons.

It may also be a good idea to require reservations for computer stations and set time limits on each computer station so staff can wipe down the hardware before the next user. Evaluate your time limits to ensure there is enough time to disinfect between uses.

Room Layouts

Evaluate your library's layout like meeting rooms, computer stations, children's areas, and self-checkout areas. Can these spaces be made safer by separating them with barriers? Use floor makers, sound walls, and mobile whiteboards to separate each space into small areas and encourage social distancing.

Take a look at the furniture in your space and rearrange furniture pieces to ensure six feet of distance between patrons. Consider removing furniture pieces that cannot fit in the area or are hard to clean.

To ensure the safety of patrons, close your meeting rooms to the public for the moment. If you'd prefer to keep your meeting rooms open, you can reduce the number of people in the room at one time and increase your cleaning procedures.

If you choose to close some or all of your meeting rooms, you can convert them into storage rooms for quarantined materials or workspaces for staff.

Control the Flow of Traffic

Within the library, create a traffic pattern for patrons to follow. Use floor markers to indicate where to walk and stand. Consider making your stacks one-way only, using arrows to help patrons understand the traffic flow through the aisles.

Re-evaluate Current Spaces

Staff Work Stations

Try separating staff workstations by at least six feet. Tape guidelines or use floor markers to encourage staff to stay within a designated space. You can add workstations by purchasing additional barcode scanners to reduce the number of shared touchpoints between staff members.

Cut down on the number of people gathering in one spot by converting meeting rooms into makeshift workspaces, encouraging telework, and holding meetings via videoconferencing.

Computer Stations

If you cannot add barriers in between computers, try removing some of your computers or moving them to different areas to separate patrons.

It may also be a good idea to require reservations for computer stations and set time limits on each computer station so staff can wipe down the hardware before the next user. Evaluate your time limits to ensure there is enough time to disinfect between uses.

Room Layouts

Evaluate your library's layout like meeting rooms, computer stations, children's areas, and self-checkout areas. Can these spaces be made safer by separating them with barriers? Use floor makers, sound walls, and mobile whiteboards to separate each space into small areas and encourage social distancing.

Take a look at the furniture in your space and rearrange furniture pieces to ensure six feet of distance between patrons. Consider removing furniture pieces that cannot fit in the area or are hard to clean.

To ensure the safety of patrons, close your meeting rooms to the public for the moment. If you'd prefer to keep your meeting rooms open, you can reduce the number of people in the room at one time and increase your cleaning procedures.

If you choose to close some or all of your meeting rooms, you can convert them into storage rooms for quarantined materials or workspaces for staff.

Control the Flow of Traffic

Within the library, create a traffic pattern for patrons to follow. Use floor markers to indicate where to walk and stand. Consider making your stacks one-way only, using arrows to help patrons understand the traffic flow through the aisles.

Offer Virtual Programs

In-person programs may be on hold right now, but you can still offer virtual programs via the internet. You can provide virtual book clubs and storytimes and provide take-home kits and online resources for at-home activities. Some services like computer use, printing, and faxing can become "by appointment only" to control the number of patrons entering an area at a time. Although it's a difficult decision, you may need to suspend some services for a while if you cannot alter them for physical distancing or offer them virtually.

Virtual Bulletin Boards

Use Alexandria's Bulletin Boards feature to reach library patrons virtually. Share and post helpful information to keep students and staff updated. These boards can include images, lesson plans, links, homework assignments, Google Forms, links to collaborative Google Docs, links to chat spaces, and more!

Learn how to build bulletin boards.

Encourage Self-Service

If your library software has a self-checkout option, encourage patrons to use it. Place signage and disinfecting materials at each station and ask patrons to wipe down anything they touch with disinfecting wipes after they check out.

Alexandria Self-Service

Alexandria's Self-Service is an unattended kiosk interface that allows patrons to check items in or out themselves, freeing librarians to handle other library responsibilities. Learn how to set up self-service at your library.

Moving Forward...

You may encounter challenges when trying to plan your reopening, but this is a time where you can grow and expand into possibilities you didn’t think were possible for you or your library.

Take what you’ve learned from 2020 and use it to prepare for the future. What policies and procedures are working? Do you need to add more ebooks to your collection or reallocate your library budget for virtual learning equipment?

Use this time to review the lessons learned during this experience and plan for the future.

Like this post?


Subscribe to our blog and we'll hand-deliver posts just like this one to your inbox! When you sign up for our newsletter you'll be the first to see our:

  • Free Library Reading Posters
  • Library Lessons
  • Book Reviews
  • Tips and Tricks
  • and more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.