New Castle, DE – New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced today the County’s comprehensive strategy for the re-opening of county’s 15 libraries. The strategy will carefully follow county, state and federal health guidelines as well as best practices established by national library organizations. Select libraries will open on Monday, April 12.
“We are very excited to re-open library doors to our guests,” said County Executive Meyer. “It’s been a long year without our libraries, and I am so proud of the ways our libraries and librarians have continued to serve our public throughout the pandemic, and now it’s time to welcome them back.”
Select in-person services will be available two and half days a week per branch. Schedule for each branch is posted HERE. Patrons will be able to browse the New Materials collection, checkout materials, place and pick up holds, and register for library cards. Libraries will also offer public computer and printer use with a focus on adult patrons who may be lacking Internet access. As a result of limited building capacity and computer spacing needs, users are encouraged to call their local library Monday through Saturday to schedule an appointment in advance. Computer appointments will be scheduled in 45-minute intervals to allow for cleaning between patron sessions. During this re-opening stage, in-person programs will not be held in libraries and meeting rooms and study rooms will not be available to the public for reservation.
“We’re very much looking forward to returning to serve our customers inside our buildings,” said Marcus Henry, general manager of New Castle’s General Services department. “We’re making safety for our staff and guests a top priority so we can continue to expand services to our customers.”
“As difficult as this past year has been, we are very grateful to our patrons for their support of the services we were able to deliver during the pandemic,” said Diana Brown, New Castle County’s Manager of Libraries. “From implementation in mid-June through March, curbside delivery provided almost 700,000 items to patrons. Now, as we transition back to normal operations over the coming months, we look forward to seeing all the faces we have missed.”
This is the first phase of re-opening and as vaccination eligibility expands, County officials expect in-person hours to be added accordingly. Approximately half of New Castle County library staff have received their first vaccination.
All New Castle County libraries will continue to offer free wireless broadband Internet service in their parking lots, as well as introduce a new service provided through a grant from the Delaware Division of Libraries for checkout of Chromebooks and Hotspots to library patrons.
NEW CASTLE COUNTY LIBRARY RE-OPENING SAFETY AND SECURITY POLICIES
- All staff, visitors and patrons over the age of 2 will be required to wear masks.
- Patrons and staff must maintain a six-foot physical distance from others.
- Building capacity limitations will be adhered to. Accordingly, patrons should limit their visit to 20 minutes for browsing and checkout.
- Plexiglass shields have been installed in staff and public areas where needed to maintain adequate distance between individuals.
- Library spaces have been temporarily reconfigured to maintain social distance and provide for the required 72 hour quarantine of returned library materials.
- Guards will be assigned during times libraries are open to the public to ensure mask and social distancing mandates are followed, as well as handle problematic patron issues.
- Staff will be provided with required PPE.
- Staff will be encouraged to COVID test onsite weekly as provided by the County at least through the end of the summer.
- Staff will be encouraged to receive vaccinations as soon as they are eligible.
- Staff will be encouraged to follow safety protocols when they are outside of the library as well as when they are inside it.
- NCC Risk Management protocols will be followed in response to confirmed COVID-19 cases and reported exposures.
- In addition to daily cleaning, Day Porter service for the cleaning of bathrooms and high touch services will be provided during times the library is open to the public.
- Computer keyboards and mice will be cleaned after each patron use. Plastic keyboard covers will be made available to patrons if they chose to use them.
- Public Works is taking the following steps to improve ventilation in libraries:
- Bipolar Ionization units have been installed to improve the air quality. These units install directly to existing HVAC systems to deliver clean indoor air that is safe and healthy. The devices purify the air by eliminating airborne particulates, odors and pathogens and have been proven to be 99.4% effective against COVID 19.
• Air filters will be replaced every 6 weeks.