Safety first and 56,000 books to share

Joe Knueven - Guest columnist

As always, we have over 56,000 wonderful books to share — and you can borrow our books and never leave your vehicle. Just pull up to the Wilmington Public Library, give us a call, and a staff member will bring your requested book out to you.

“Curbside” is just one of the many changes we have made at the Wilmington Public Library to ensure that we can remain open and serve our community throughout the pandemic. Curbside service is available both at the main library in Wilmington or at our branch at Clinton-Massie.

Need more than books? We have expanded curbside service to include photocopying as well as sending and receiving faxes. You can borrow DVDs through curbside — even in its prime, Blockbuster never offered that level of service.

So how do we make sure our materials are as safe as possible? All returned books, DVDs, etc., are treated as if they are contaminated with the virus — and we use the research of Battelle in Columbus to guide our policies.

Battelle worked with the Institutes of Museum and Library Services as well as the Columbus Metropolitan Library to determine that all returned items should be either quarantined for four days — or, if books are on hold for patrons, the covers should be sanitized and the books should be quarantined for 24 hours.

Why do we take these steps? Because Battelle’s research found that coronavirus breaks down on book pages and cannot be detected in as little as 24 hours after exposure. However, the virus could be detected for up to three days on book covers and up to four days on magazines.

As part of these precautions, library employees who handle returned materials wear gloves while checking in material, sanitize all work surfaces when they have finished, and thoroughly wash their hands before moving on to other tasks.

Similarly, items that arrive from other libraries in our consortium (on hold for Wilmington or Clinton-Massie patrons) are quarantined for 24 hours, and the book covers or entire DVDs are sanitized.

Remember, if you have an item on hold, simply call the library once you have arrived and our staff will check it out to you and bring it out to your car. Requests can be made over the phone, via email, or directly with your library card in the library’s online catalog.

Maybe you want to come inside and browse the library’s stacks. We are currently open for visits too. To protect the public, our staff members wear face coverings at all times, whether interacting with the public or handling materials.

To protect our staff members, we require that patrons also wear masks.

These and other measures are based on the Responsible Restart Ohio guidelines published by the governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Health.

Staff members also take daily health assessments before coming to work and are required to stay at home if they do not feel well.

Throughout the day, staff members are required to wash their hands frequently, and they have access to 80-percent-alcohol hand sanitizer at all public desks to use in between hand washing.

Library staff members clean high-touch surfaces with a sanitizing solution on an hourly basis throughout the day. Public computers are sanitized between each patron.

Finally, patrons and staff are encouraged to maintain social distancing at all times, with the help of rearranged work spaces, barriers, and new procedures. We also have limitations on the number of people in the library at any one time.

We are constantly working on new ways to serve the public safely and efficiently.

Joe Knueven is Director of the Wilmington Public Library.

Joe Knueven

Guest columnist