Beginning Thursday, Oct. 1, the Yankton Community Library (YCL) will open its doors to patrons for the first time since the initial pandemic shutdown last spring.
The new library hours will be from 9 a.m.-noon Mondays-Saturdays. Due to the continued presence of the novel coronavirus in Yankton, patrons will be asked to sanitize their hands on arrival and put on a mask.
YCL will continue to provide appointment slots in the afternoons for those who cannot come in the mornings or who, for health reasons, prefer to come when the library is empty. Curbside pickup will continue to be available.
“We have appointment slots right now throughout the day,” Dana Schmidt, YCL director, told the Press & Dakotan. “Those are filling up every day and we’re trying to squeeze extra people in here and there.”
A morning “Grab and Go” would give community members an opportunity to enter the library for quick errands, such as browsing and checking out a book or running a small print job, she said.
“We can get people in and out quickly during that time, without having to reserve,” Schmidt said. “We will have someone greeting people at the door to remind them to wear a mask and to sanitize their hands. That person will also be keeping track of how many people are in the building at a time.”
Because the number of individuals in the library will be limited, patrons may have to wait a few minutes to enter the space, depending on traffic.
On entering, patrons will notice a few changes to the inside of the library as well.
“We’ve tried to remove some of the high-touch items,” Schmidt said. “We have all of our newspapers and magazines put away, because we don’t want that stuff out where multiple people are touching it and putting it back on the shelf for the next person.”
Toys have been put away for the same reason.
“And we have the chairs put away as well,” Schmidt said. “We aren’t encouraging people to stay for a long period of time.”
The most notable change is the new plastic divider on the main circulation desk, an extra barrier between staff and patrons in what is likely the most high-touch, high-interaction area with the public.
“The library doors have been locked since March 14, but we have had staff in the building this whole time,” Schmidt said. “Right when we closed, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we keep offering services?’”
In the spring, the library began offering virtual programming and curbside pickup, as well as technical help and card renewal over the phone. Meanwhile, staff has continued to purchase new books and items for the library.
Also, returned items have been and will continue to be quarantined.
“Once they are returned, we just let them sit for three full days,” Schmidt said. “Once they’re put in the book drop — we have gloves on — we put them in a container and just let them sit for three days.”
After three days, staff disinfects returned items and puts them back on the shelves.
Once cleared from quarantine, those items are backdated when they are entered into the system, so no late fees apply to items returned on time. Late fees are only applied to DVDs.
Also, staff has been doing extra cleaning daily and between patron appointments since the pandemic began.
“We’ve tried to incrementally increase what we’re doing,” Schmidt said. “We’ve expanded the hours a bit more and we’ve expanded the services. We’re trying to take small steps to make sure that we’re able to keep patrons safe.”
If successful, “Grab and Go” hours may be expanded in the future.
“I don’t know when ‘back to normal’ will be, but I think people are ready to come back in to the library,” Schmidt said. “We all have missed our patrons. We miss people coming in and miss being able to help them a little more, one on one.”