After being closed almost eight weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library has announced a plan to reopen.
Andrew Hunt, director of the library, said the reopening will be a phased opening over the course of a few weeks.
“I know there are many who have been anxiously awaiting the reopening of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library,” Hunt said. “I also know many envision that CBCPL will return to operating as it did prior to COVID-19. But, just as the business community is taking preventative precautions related to the virus, so is the library.”
Phase 1 of the reopening will involve staff reporting to work at the library this Monday, Hunt said. They will reportedly be maintaining social distancing and taking other precautions as they work on projects related to the reopening.
“Within the first week” staff are back to work, the library will begin Phase 2 — restarting its curbside pickup service.
After the library initially closed to the public March 18, library staff offered the opportunity for patrons to call and request items to borrow. These items were then taken out to the patrons’ cars.
This continued through April 3, when the library had its staff begin working from home in response to Gov. Bill Lee’s stay-at-home order.
The library will soon announce when people can begin requesting books for curbside pickup.
Hunt said Phase 3 of the library’s reopening will involve opening the building to the public — with a few caveats.
“At this point, patrons will be allowed back in the building with proper social distancing,” Hunt said. “It will be in a controlled manner, limiting the number of patrons at one time as well as time limits and access to two areas of the building, the Community Room and the lobby.”
The Community Room “will be used as a holding area for patrons,” with computers set up there for public use. The lobby area “will be reserved for seniors, patrons with limited mobility and at-risk individuals.”
Meeting rooms will be closed.
At that point, patrons will not be able to browse through the library’s shelves. Instead, the library will allow patrons to use tablet computers to video chat with staff members, who will find items for them.
Patrons will be required to wear masks to enter, both at the main library on Church Street N.E. and its History Branch & Archives on North Ocoee Street, said Hunt.
Phase 4 lifts a few of those restrictions.
“Most areas of the library will be open to the public on a limited schedule,” Hunt said. “This will allow for enhanced cleaning during this time. Social distancing will continue to be observed.”
At that point, meeting rooms will be available for groups of less than 10 people who practice social distancing, or stay at least 6 feet apart.
However, there will be a 45-minute time limit for those using computers. Patrons will also be required to wear masks.
Phase 5 will mark the library’s return to “business as usual.” All areas of the library will be open, with none of the prior time or location restrictions. Masks might still be recommended, but they won’t be required for entry.
The exact dates for all the reopening phases are still to be determined. The only date we know for sure is when staff will return to the library building for work: this Monday.
“The library will be closely following all the governor’s and [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] recommendations,” Hunt said. “As far as timing, some of the stages may flow quickly from one to another.”
Those who still have books and other items checked out from the library do not need to worry about late fines. The due dates for all materials due after March 18 have been extended to May 11. Materials can be returned through the library’s outdoor book return.
During Phases 1 through 4, all returned materials “will be quarantined for three days before returning to the shelf.”
The library also plans to continue all its online offerings, which have included story times, craft classes and more conducted via Zoom and Facebook Live.
“CBCPL is making efforts to be a safe place and help to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Hunt said. “We ask your patience during these times as we work together toward returning to normal.”