SUFFOLK COUNTY

Phase 3 reopens libraries with restrictions

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With libraries serving as vital community centers, their closure due to COVID-19 regulations, has left a paucity in the towns they serve for cultural and social events.

But in late June, libraries have been able to reopen, adherent to parameters of Phase 3, and serve the public once again in their knowledgeable capacity.

Prior to Phase 3, libraries thought of inventive ways to remain in the everyday lives of their patrons. Bayport-Blue Point Public Library, during Phase 2 (June 10) had contactless curbside and front-door pickup delivery and drop-off. Staff shifts were staggered and tele-working was put in place. Library staff was able to move a good portion of classes online such as yoga, arts and crafts, ancestry, cooking, gardening, and children’s story time (with featured community members as guest readers).

A particularly popular regular Facebook post game of the BBP Library was “Guess how many are in the jar?,” with kid favorites like Swedish Fish and Goldfish crackers in a mason jar.

A “significant number of our patrons have expressed an interest in us continuing some online programming post-pandemic,” said Mark Grossman, a public relations representative for the BBP Library.

With doors opening to the public, with limited hours and at 50 percent capacity, on June 24, staff will have to have daily temperatures taken and complete a health questionnaire. Gloves are to be worn when handling books, DVDs, and other circulatory materials. UV lights have been installed at the BBP Library to help expedite the sanitization and disinfection of surfaces.

The Sayville Library has also implemented similar procedures, such as quarantining returned library materials (books, DVDs) for 72 hours before returning to their respective collections. Plexiglass shields have been installed at all service desks to minimize face-to-face exposure as a further hindrance to virus transmission, and face masks are required of all staff and any patrons.

The HVAC system of the Sayville Library has been adjusted to double the amount of fresh air flow throughout the building.

With an expansive online library services system, the Sayville Library has been able to provide its community with access to free book downloads through platforms such as Libby, Hoopla, Kanopy, and Flipster.

For those wanting a more invested quarantine project, patrons were able to research their families gratis on ancestry.com.

An online gaming tournament was set up for Nintendo Switch users.

With July 6 as the targeted opening day for the Sayville Library, patrons will have to make appointments to enter and will be limited to one hour of computer use. Copiers and fax machines will be available, but notarial service is also limited to appointment only.

Immediately following closure in March, the Connetquot Library launched their #LibraryAtHome campaign “in order to raise awareness for [their] expansive lineup of online services, including download- ing and streaming e-books, audio- books, videos, and music,” said assistant director Jason Ladick, who noted a 50 percent increase in usage.

When a feature to apply or renew library membership online was added, over 300 applications were processed.

Currently over 1,200 registrants have taken over 200 classes with the Connetquot Library’s live virtual classes on Zoom. Topics included fitness, cooking, technology, lectures, crafts, and book discussions.

For in-person patronage, the Connetquot Library has implemented rigorous cleaning standards and have even obtained an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer.

In addition, the floorplan has been revamped to spread and reduce capacity to the 50 percent threshold mandated by the state.

Plexiglass partitions have been installed at all service desks, along with social-distancing floor markers, signage, and sanitizing stations.

Overall, libraries across the country have been inventive and innovative with utilizing technology to continue to provide their patrons with unbound access to information.

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