After more than three months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halifax Public Libraries has reopened its doors with new health and safety measures in place.
That includes reduced seating in most branches to allow for physical distancing, hand sanitizer and masks on offer at each entrance, and new protocols for wiping down desks and equipment used by guests.
“We’re asking our community members to help us out, maybe sanitize the station before you use it, especially computers,” said spokesperson Curtis Sutton.
“So when you come back, things are a little different, but we’re here to help you out and enjoy your library visit.”
In larger facilities, like the Halifax Central Library, floor decals have been installed to direct public traffic and keep people at a safe distance.
Toys and games have also been removed from all branches to reduce the risk of transmission through touching shared surfaces.
Many library branches have new ‘Grab and Go’ stations featured at their doors, which allow guests to pick up a curated selection of novels without having to linger inside or touch the shelves.
The books in those bags can also be returned at different times, explained Sutton.
“They’re prepackaged books, you can see inside each bag, there’s a sheet that gives you the genre of the book,” he told Global News.
“Anything from fiction, like Nova Scotia fiction, to romance or mystery… we’ve made some great selections for you.”
For the time being, in-person programs remain suspended at all branches, although they continue online.
Sutton said in the next few weeks, Halifax Public Libraries hopes to bring some of its events and activities outdoors.
“We had a huge uptake on people attending our virtual programs,” he said, adding that since the start of the pandemic, about 6,000 people have registered for new digital library cards.
Asked if the libraries have seen an influx of overdue books returning, now that many public health restrictions have been lifted, Sutton said they’re “trickling” in.
When the libraries closed their doors in March, about 140,000 books had been taken out.