It has been almost a year since the Durango Public Library could offer its regular services and hours, but patrons will once again be able to browse the book aisles when it reopens Tuesday.
The library closed its doors in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It began curbside service in May. For about a month in the fall, it opened to in-person, indoor service for limited hours.
“Then the virus got bad again. In mid-November, we had to close our doors,” said Sandy Irwin, library director, adding the library lost a third of its public-facing staff during the closure.
Starting next week, the building will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Curbside pickup will be available for those who need it from 9 to 10 a.m.
The library plans to fill its open positions later this year, after which the hours might be able to expand to former service levels, Irwin said.
When patrons visit the library, a few things will look different. Upholstered chairs are in storage because they are more difficult to sanitize than plastic chairs, arrows on the floor indicate browsing routes and library staff members will help customers from a distance of at least 6 feet.
Visitors will see socially distant spaces, limited to 50% capacity. If a room is at capacity, they will need to wait outside the building or children’s room.
Each day, facilities staff members will clean and disinfect the building and equipment in the evenings to prepare for the next day.
As library staff members prepare for reopening, they are updating computers, rearranging the curbside pickup setup and redistributing staff stations around the library.
“We are all so thrilled to be reopening. We miss people,” Irwin said. “It is a weird place to serve the public but not be able to serve the public.”
The indoor, in-person services will vary based on La Plata County’s level on the statewide COVID-19 response dial. The framework includes six levels ranging from the lightest restrictions under Level Green to a stay-at-home order under Level Purple. La Plata County was at Level Yellow, or “concern,” as of Thursday.
When the library reopens, staff members will ask visitors to limit their time to one hour if possible. Two hours of computer time is available if no one else is waiting, Irwin said.
Masks are required in the state of Colorado, and patrons who do not have a mask will be provided one when they arrive. People who cannot wear masks can use the library’s curbside service.
Only an individual or a family/household – no groups – can enter. Program room rentals, study rooms and drinking fountains will not be available.
Patrons are asked to not disinfect the library’s computer equipment with their own materials because some equipment can be easily damaged.
People should call the library if they have questions about the services and hours, Irwin said. Up-to-date hours will also be on the website, durangogov.org/library.
“We all want to work with our community, give them the best that we can every day,” Irwin said. “We can’t wait for people to come back.”