From extra cleanings to sending puppets on 'vacation' local libraries respond to COVID-19 concerns
Amid fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus local libraries, hubs of activity for children, adults or those who simply want to get out of the cold, are taking extra measures to ensure everything from books to puppets are sanitized.
Officials at Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood all have said they are taking additional steps to ensure the safety of their patrons.
Tualatin Public Library Director Jerianne Thompson said her staff was following guidelines from the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control. Those include, she wrote in an email, "encouraging staff to wash their hands frequently and clean surfaces (including computer keyboards) more often."
Over at Tigard Public Library, Amber Bell, readers services manager, said the city's facilities teams are taking extra precautionary steps when they clean, including disinfecting such "touch points" as door handles, bathroom fixtures and counter surfaces.
"We are also sanitizing computers and magazines holders more frequently," Bell said. "We are encouraging our staff to follow best practices as recommended by health officials, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding touching one's mouth, nose and eyes."
Even magazine holders are getting an extra scrub-down.
In addion, Bell said the library has sent its large collection of fabric hand puppets, everything from dragons to those representing a variety of people and their careers, on "vacation."
"We have over 100 in the collection, and more than half of the collection is checked out on any given day," Bell pointed out. "The puppets are beloved playthings in the library as well."
Used by children (and grown-ups as well) for "imaginative play, story-telling and empathy-building," Bell said the puppets are getting a thorough cleaning and will return at a later date.
Meanwhile, at Sherwood Public Library, Library Director Adrienne Doman Calkins said that in addition to following guidelines from state, county and local authorities, the library has placed signs around the library with information about COVID-19 and ways to reduce the spread of infection.
"Staff are disinfecting common surfaces at least twice a day," Doman Calkins wrote in an email. "These include computer keyboards and mice, phones, headphones, self-checkouts, front desk, book drop counter, door handles, credit card machines, receipt printers and scanners."
In addition, she said their library toys, too, are "taking a vacation" while the library continues with a "year-round cleaning regime" for all items that are used during story times. Also, staff and volunteers are encouraged to stay home if they feel sick with on-call employees ready to fill shifts.
"As a member library of Washington Cooperative Library Services, Sherwood Public Library staff are also in communication with WCCLS management about potential additional responses to help the public and staff," Doman Calkins said.
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