Libraries Move Towards Phased Reopening

May 26, 2020, 5:15 p.m. ·


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Last week Governor Pete Ricketts issued a directed health measure which will allow gatherings of larger than 10 people, including at libraries, in all but two public health districts. Many libraries shut down entirely the last few months, and the reopening process won’t happen all at once.

The Grand Island Public Library has been closed since March 16th.

The first step of reopening is taking back the books that are out in the community. Book drop boxes will reopen starting Wednesday and be open each Wednesday for the next four weeks.

Steve Fosselman is director of the Grand Island Public Library. He expects there are about 10,000 books and other materials that need to be returned.

“We’ll put those books into quarantine for 72 hours and we’re making sure that before the library staff touches them that those books are as free of any virus as possible," Fosselman said. "Then we’re actually gonna be sanitizing those books, then we’ll be putting them out on the shelves.”

Starting June 3rd, the Grand Island Public Library will offer curbside pickup for library materials. The Lincoln City Libraries have been offering a similar program for some time.

Fosselman said library staff have been on temporary layoffs during the library’s closure, but some are back to work this week to start preparing for a new normal.

“This week we’re training staff on doing remote programming," Fosselman said. "Now we’re gearing up for an entirely remote and virtual summer reading program. Thousands of kids will benefit but they’ll just do it in a different way than they’ve done it before.”

Fosselman said the library will start to evaluate reopening to the public in mid-June.

The Lincoln City Libraries are accepting curbside return of books from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Friday, May 29.