No one was sure what the future would hold when Deschutes Public Library closed its doors to the public on March 16. The duration of the closure, how to continue serving the community, even what to do with checked-out books — it was all an unknown. But in recent weeks the library began a limited return to operations, and in early June customers started picking up and placing holds on materials. The next chapter in the Library’s phased reopening started on June 22, when customers were allowed to enter the buildings again — albeit in a limited way.

“We are happy to provide a gradual reintroduction to the library as we enter Chapter 2 of our reopening plan,” said Library Operations Manager Holly McKinley last week. “Starting June 22, customers will have limited access into Library buildings. Staff will wear masks, and we’ll limit the number of people allowed in at any one time to facilitate safe physical distancing.”

McKinley said customers can pick up and check out their own materials at self-serve kiosks. 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.

Modified hours remain in place. Sisters Library is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.

McKinley said the next phase in the Library’s steps to reopening is Chapter 3, which will include increased access to buildings, resources, and services. Chapter 2, she said, is a transition stage that will help staff and customers become accustomed to new procedures as the library works toward the next chapter. The date for Chapter 3 will be determined by the Library Director and Board in consultation with government and public health officials.

“As we take these incremental steps to reopening our buildings, our foremost goal is to keep staff and customers safe when working in and browsing the library,” said Library Director Todd Dunkelberg. “We are all eager to get back to some semblance of ‘normal,’ but our priority is to minimize risk at every step.”

Minimizing risk includes the following practices:

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

• Increased cleanings: The Library’s janitorial service is working additional hours and paying 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 are closed during the initial phases of re-opening, outdoor hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer are available. Staff have access to soap and warm water. 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.