Deschutes Public Library has announced its reopening plan, which will begin the last week of May. The plan, approved by the Library director and board, lays out three chapters that move the library toward a return to a “new normal” for its operations.

“The past two months have been unlike anything the country has ever experienced,” said library director Todd Dunkelberg. “In Deschutes County, and particularly here at Deschutes Public Library, our vibrant and welcoming culture was disrupted. We are used to putting books on hold, but few if any of us were prepared to put our lives on hold.”

Dunkelberg said the reopening plan will be rolled out in three chapters to ensure the safety of staff and customers alike.

Chapter 1: Return of materials and release of existing holds.

On Tuesday, May 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday, May 30, from noon to 6 p.m. customers can drop off materials at all Deschutes Public Library locations. These designated dates and times will allow for the quarantine of returned library materials. Directional signage at each library will indicate exact drop-off locations and procedures. 

Beginning Tuesday, June 2, customers who had materials on hold before the March closure will be able to pick up those items. Pick up will be curbside only and items can only be picked up at the location where the hold was originally placed. Book drops will remain closed, but items may be dropped off curbside with staff during this time. Hours for pick up and continued drop off of materials for Sisters Library are: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Sundays, Mondays).

Chapter 2: Limited customer access to library buildings:

The date for Chapter 2 will be determined by the Library Director and Board in consultation with government and public health officials. More information regarding its implementation will be made available as it is known.

In Chapter 2, customers will have limited access into library buildings and the number of people allowed in Library buildings at any one time will be restricted to facilitate physical distancing. Limited services will be available at this time, such as picking up newly requested holds and light browsing. Meeting and tutor rooms, public computers and children’s early learning spaces will remain closed. Programs, classes and events (story times, computer labs, lectures, etc.), as well as the processing of library cards, will continue online only during this time.

Summer with the Library (formerly the Summer Reading Program) will be online during July and August.

Modified hours will remain in place. In Chapter 2 the Sisters Library hours are: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Sundays, Mondays.

Chapter 3: Increased access to buildings, resources and services:

The date for Chapter 3 will be determined by the Library Director and Board in consultation with government and public health officials. Chapter 3 institutes a broader range of access to all libraries, materials and services including more browsing and limited use of public computers. Modified hours will remain in place.

“Our goal is for staff and customers to feel safe and be safe when working in and browsing the library,” said Dunkelberg. “We are working with local- and state-level governments and health authorities to ensure that we are implementing their recommended best practices to minimize risk.”

Those practices include:

• Face coverings. All Deschutes Public Library staff members are required to wear face masks. Customers are encouraged but not required to wear face masks as a courtesy to staff and other members of the public.

• Increased cleanings. The Library’s janitorial service is contracted to work additional hours and pay particular attention to common surfaces such as handrails, doors, and handles. The Library also provides cleaning supplies for all workspaces and public service desk areas.

• Hand washing. While public restrooms will be closed during the initial phases of reopening, outdoor hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer will be provided for Library customers. Staff have regular access to soap and warm water for hand washing. Gloves will be provided to staff for use during cleaning and disinfecting materials and workspaces.

• Physical distancing. Customers will be guided to maintain a six-foot distance between staff and other customers. Physical distancing areas will be clearly marked in spaces where the public tends to gather (e.g., service desks, check-out kiosks).

“These three chapters to re-opening provide safety-conscious steps that allow us to return to our libraries in a way that makes sense for staff and the public,” said Dunkelberg. “While we can’t predict what the future holds, we are optimistic that as conditions change and allow us to reopen, we will be prepared and ready.”

Library customers with questions about the phases or their accounts can call or text their question to 541-617-0776.