A stop in one of the Wilton Free Public Library’s story walks, a contactless activity the library is offering patrons. The walk is a half mile loop around downtown with each stop including a page from a storybook. Courtesy of Wilton Free Public Library

REGION — Libraries will have a different look and feel as they reopen their doors to the public during the pandemic and follow guidelines issued by the Maine CDC and the Maine State Library. Materials will continue to be quarantined, the number of patrons will be limited and library staff will now have the added task of sanitizing surfaces.

“Once we open to the public, it’s mostly worrying about having enough cleaning supplies and gloves and masks because while we are closed, we are in control of what’s going out and what’s coming in, but once people start coming in, we will have to start wiping down more areas and paying attention, and using more supplies and some of those are still hard to find,” Director of Livermore Falls Treat Memorial Library Myra Rosenbaum said in a phone interview.

Rosenbaum said the library has been ready to open its doors to the public, but is waiting for the town to build a frame for the required Plexiglass shield. In the meantime, Livermore Falls Treat Memorial Library will continue to offer curbside services which patrons can utilize by emailing the director at [email protected] or calling the library at 207-897-3631.

The Jay-Niles Memorial Library has plans to open later this month in a similar capacity by limiting the number of patrons allowed in the building at a time.

“Appointments will be on a transaction basis and limited to 15 to 20 minutes with no more that 1-3 people in the library at a time from one family,” Director Tamara Hoke said in an email. “The library has purchased sneeze guards and other PPE (personal protection equipment) including face masks and gloves for use by staff and patrons. We will be requiring those who enter the building to wear face coverings.”

Curbside services will continue at the Jay Library which patrons can utilize by contacting Hoke either through the library’s Facebook page or by contacting Hoke at [email protected]

The Farmington Public Library hopes to reopen later this month once construction on the lobby comes to completion.

“We are actively working towards opening to the public in a sort of limited fashion with restriction on how many people are in the building,” Farmington Library Director Jessica Casey said in a phone interview. “We are trying to get there. Our lobby has been under construction for the last couple of weeks so that’s why we haven’t opened prior to this, but we are preparing for that and hoping to in the next couple weeks.”

Curbside services are still available at the Farmington Public Library by calling 207-778-4312, emailing [email protected] or contacting the staff on the library’s Facebook page.

The added responsibility of monitoring surfaces and materials that patrons may come in contact with impacts the staff at libraries which often consists of part-time employees and volunteers. The Farmington Public Library is seeking an additional employee to assist with COVID-19 procedures which includes quarantining returned materials.

The procedure for quarantining materials has also posed as a space issue for smaller libraries such as the Wilton Free Public Library which is only offering curbside pickup until further notice. The service can be utilized by contacting the library via email [email protected], by phone 207-645-4831 or through the library’s Facebook page.

“We’ve got a system down for checking materials in from the patron who returned them (to clear the items from the patron’s account), checking the materials out to the Quarantine account (so the items don’t look like they are available to be checked out), letting them sit for three days, then finally checking them back in for reshelving and relending. It’s not a complicated system but it does take extra time and space (and muscles),” Director Jennifer Scott said in an email.

The Livermore Public Library is now open with limited hours from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is only allowing one person or one family in the building at a time. Face coverings and social distancing measures are required. Curbside services are still available by contacting the director at [email protected] or calling the library at 207-897-7173.

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