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Information about Connecticut library responses to the coronavirus, as well as links to other COVID-19 sites for libraries and Connecticut.


Featuring additional input from participants in the July 7 Follow-up session. Recording (Password = 8U!?.1%y) | Chat transcript

1. Do library staff count toward the capacity limits?

     Yes. 50% capacity includes staff and patrons.

2. Do I have to keep track of patrons for potential future contact tracing?

     No. The Reopening Rules specify only that you "Maintain a log of employees on-premise over time, to support contact tracing." This does not apply to patrons.

3. If my library is open to the public, must I provide access to the restrooms?

     For libraries in municipally-owned buildings, review the Public Health Code from DPH. Sections 19-13-B105 through 19-13-B113 apply to “Toilet and Handwashing Facilities at Public Buildings.” Also contact your local health district for guidance.

     See also this research report from the CT Office of Legislative Research. It says, in part, "The requirements for public bathroom facilities are outlined in the State Building Code, which includes the 1990 BOCA National Plumbing Code and the 1990 BOCA National Building Code. The State Building Code requires public bathrooms in restaurants, with the exception of take-out facilities that are below a certain size. It requires them in automotive service stations if they are above a certain size. It does not require them in gas stations.

     "The BOCA National Plumbing Code requires public toilet facilities in restaurants, nightclubs, places of public assembly, and mercantile occupancies. (1990 National BOCA Building Code, Sec. 308.1)."

4. What are the current protocols for quarantining library materials? Do we need to wipe down book jackets?

     The REALM (Reopening Archives, Libraries and Museums) Project, a partnership among IMLS, OCLC, and Battelle, is researching this question.

     REALM has made tests to determine the length of time the COVID-19 virus may live on these commonly used materials in libraries: hardcover book, softcover book, plastic protective cover, DVD case, braille paper pages, glossy paper pages, magazine pages, children’s board books, archival folders, DVD/CD cases made of polycarbonate, Talking book and USB cassettes made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), acrylic, flexible plastic storage bags made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE, recycling #4), rigid plastic storage containers made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE, recycling #2)

5. If we have plexiglass shields up at the service desks, do patrons still need to stay 6 feet away?

     The plexiglass provides a barrier between people and allows you to shrink the distance to 3 feet, with the plexi between.

6. Should library staff who are 65 and older continue to work in the library building all day?

     The Reopening Rules say "Those in high-risk groups and over the age of 65 should continue to stay safe and stay home." This includes staff and volunteers as well as patrons. As stated in the rules, "Those who can work from home should continue to do so" and "Consider offering employees whose responsibilities can be met in a remote work setting the ability to continue to work remotely."

7. Can our library require patrons to wear a mask?

     Yes. According to the Reopening Rules, "Patrons are required to bring and wear masks or cloth face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth, unless doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety due to a medical condition." Patrons are not required to prove the medical condition.

     Work with your board to create or adapt a policy regarding masks or health crises in general. Post your policy and communicate it to patrons in advance. You can find sample language in the webinar recording "Marketing and Strategic Communications During COVID-19" from Libby Post (Access Password: 5B=K!T8) as well as in the presentation slides. If a patron claims a medical condition or refuses to wear a mask, offer alternate ways of providing services or access to materials. 

8. Are we required to give masks to patrons?

     No. However, you could have some masks to hand out if a patron needs one.

9. Do you have any leads on de-escalation training? 

     There are some free courses available in the Niche Academy.

10. Do we need to implement an appointment system for computers?

     Appointments are a good idea. If you do set up appointments, be sure to provide time between them so you can clean the keyboard and mouse before the next patron's turn. Many libraries are covering keyboards and mice with disposable plastic wrap that can be changed easily and affordably between uses. 

11. What happens if one of our patrons is diagnosed with COVID?

     Prepare a procedure in advance so you're ready when this happens, seeking input from your local health department. Public health officials will conduct contact tracing and notify people who came in close contact with an infected patient. The CDC defines close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 30 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset. Staff should be aware of potential symptoms, self-monitor, and consider testing if they feel they may have been exposed.

12. What happens if one of our staff is diagnosed with COVID?

     Prepare a procedure in advance so you're ready when this happens, seeking input from your local health department. A staff member with  positive test results should follow instructions from public health officials regarding quarantine. Public health officials will conduct contact tracing and notify people who came in close contact with an infected patient. The CDC defines close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 30 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset. 

     Notify staff members who were in contact with the infected employee. Staff should be aware of potential symptoms, self-monitor, and consider getting tested if they feel they may have been exposed. Determine work-at-home policies or sick time policies for staff who are quarantining. 

     Consider having staff work in teams or staggered shifts. When the same people work together all the time, it will be easier to deal with any potential quarantines. 

     If there was substantial exposure within the library building for an extended period of time, consider closing the building for cleaning. 

13. How can we support our library staff during this time?
     Ideas: ask a Family Therapist to meet with staff to help deal with anxiety and talk through the stress; work with your library or municipality's EAP provider; promote any mental health and wellness hotlines offered by your health insurance company. 

14. Do we need to have a greeter at the front door to conduct head counts? 
     It depends on your library, considering the building size, sight lines, staffing, and busy-ness. Some libraries have greeters on rotating shifts who remain behind a plexiglass barrier or remain physically distant while wearing a mask. In other libraries, service desks are close enough to the door that staff can monitor access. One library keeps the front door locked and installed a doorbell for patrons to request access. Others have found that traffic is light and head counts are not needed. 

15. How can patrons browse safely?

     Consider appointments and time limits for browsing. Be clear about your procedure for items that have been handled by patrons during browsing. Some libraries are asking patrons to put handled items onto a cart for quarantining, while other libraries are following a grocery store model and not quarantining things that people touch in the building. One library put hand sanitizer in the entrance to the new materials room, while another requires patrons to sanitize their hands upon entering the library. 

16. How can we safely have children in the library?
     Put away toys, puppets, furniture, and other commonly touched items from the children's room. Some libraries recommend parents come in alone, while others set a minimum age for access or allow children under 12 only with a parent or caregiver. Consider limiting the number of families in the library or children's room at any given time, or allow access by appointment only. 

17. What if patrons want to wear gloves in the building? What about staff who want to wear gloves while working, or wear the same pair of gloves all day? 

     The CDC has recommendations on When to Wear Gloves,  starting with this introductory statement: "For the general public, wearing gloves is not necessary in most situations, like running errands. CDC recommends wearing gloves when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick. Practice everyday preventive actions like keeping social distance (at least 6 feet) from others, washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol), and wearing a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public."

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