One of the more popular public gathering places in Eureka Springs is the Carnegie Library, which closed for a week because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19, has reopened using precautions to protect staff and patrons.
“At the Carnegie Library we have one staff person in each building (with a third floater staff member, when possible), answering phones, taking book/DVD orders, and calling people back to know that their order is ready,” Director April Griffith said. “Minimal staffing in the building at one time is key to maintain recommended social distancing parameters in otherwise physically close working spaces.”
Items ordered by patrons will be placed in plastic bags with a number assigned the patron, along with their initials. The bags will be spaced apart on long tables in front of the media center and annex from 9 – 5 p.m.
“We’ll have the shades up so that we can see when people come and get their items,” Griffith said. “We are also going to continue to circulate hotspots, but we’re temporarily re-housing them in locking Tupperware so they can be returned in the drop box. Patrons will have to sign the paperwork in advance, when they place a hold on the device. These are the only items we’ll be checking-in as soon as we pull them from the drop box.”
Due to a shortage of disinfecting supplies, one staff member will check the drop box wearing gloves and a facemask in the morning, and set all items in one of three designated tables to leave “quarantined” for 72 hours before they are check them in.
“This has come at the recommendation and approval of our board member, Dr. Ty Burden, a medical professional serving on several hospital boards who has provided feedback on this process to help us make the cleaning products that we do have last longer,” Griffith said. “We’re going to follow in Berryville’s footsteps, and assign one person to each phone/computer. Each staff member is responsible for sanitizing that station at the beginning and end of each day.”
People can call and ask for specific titles, search their library’s catalog online (carrollmadisonlibraries.org/) and place holds on items they want, or they can just call the library at (479) 253-8754 and tell librarians what you would like.
“We can pull books after we have a conversation,” Griffith said. “Reader’s advisory is a service we’ve always offered, and we’re happy to continue serving as ‘reading matchmakers’ at this time, when patrons can’t physically browse the shelves for themselves.”
The libraries in Carroll County have staff answering phones from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays now. Weekend hours are still being sorted out with details expected to be announced soon.
Griffith said the library is working to keep people engaged any way they can.
“We’ve been trying to work out new protocols for service during these continually changing circumstances, but I am grateful that we started circulating Wi-Fi hotspots earlier this year,” she said. “One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is how important connectivity is for people, and here is Carroll County, where one-third of our community does not have access to high-speed internet, this can be very problematic. We are doing our best to help close that information gap for folks.
“We used the time [we were closed] to sanitize all incoming items and reassess how we could provide a curbside service while maintaining the safety of the community, including librarians, as new information emerged about how long the virus remains activated on surfaces and in different environments.”