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Libraries modifying operations in response to health directives and customer incidents

| August 14, 2020, 12:57 PM

Rams Head

Officials from the Anne Arundel County Public Library (AACPL), citing advice from county health department officials, an uptick in the customer incidents and increased staff concerns, have announced the need to shift to more controlled operations. The system will reduce in-person operations, offer increased curbside and digital services and begin taking appointments for in-person computer use, browsing and librarian assistance starting September 8.

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Rams Head

The annoucement comes after county health department officials recently voiced concerns about possible virus transmission in staff workrooms and advised library officials to find more space in buildings for employees. Library staff have also documented hundreds of instances of customers failing to wear face coverings or follow social distancing protocols. Additionally, more than half of respondents in a recent staff survey indicated that they felt safe at work only sometimes, rarely or never.

To address these concerns, the library’s Board of Trustees voted to change library operations based on a recommendation from AACPL CEO Skip Auld.

“While we are extremely disappointed in the need to reduce in person service, these operational changes will result in a safer environment for staff and customers,” Auld said. “Since opening on July 6, our staff have experienced unacceptable behavior from a small number of customers who refuse to follow laws on mask usage and social distancing. Some library employees have even been cursed at and breathed on in a deliberate attempt to do them harm. Our staff must be able to feel safe in order to successfully operate our libraries.”

Starting, Monday, August 17, all 16 library locations will shift to a Curbside Plus model. Services offered will include:

  • Increased hours for contactless curbside pickup
    • Monday – Thursday from 10 am to noon and 3-6 pm
    • Friday and Saturday from 10 am to noon and 2-4 pm
    • Sunday (starting September 13 at some branches) from 1-5 pm
  • Free wireless printing of up to 10 pages, per day, through the library’s website and SmartALEC app
  • Outdoor Wi-Fi at all library branches (except Riviera Beach and Discoveries: The Library at the Mall)
  • Telephone assistance for research, book recommendations and more
  • Virtual assistance from the Ask a Librarian email service, social media
  • More virtual programs

Bookdrops remain open and staff are working diligently to add more services including:

  • Appointments for browsing the stacks, using library computers and librarian assistance (Starting September 8)
  • Laptop checkouts with mobile hotspots (September)
  • Website chat for reference help, book recommendations (September)
  • Virtual assistance from a librarian via Zoom (September)
  • MedStar Mobile Health Center at Brooklyn Park Library on second and fourth Tuesdays of the month starting in September
  • Take and make craft kits
  • Book bundles
  • Outdoor activities

The library continues to increase its offering of virtual programs through Zoom and Facebook Live. Customers should visit the library’s calendar of events for a complete list of virtual programs.

“The Anne Arundel County Public Library is committed to providing as much service as can be offered safely,” Auld said. “We will continue to find innovative solutions that address the digital divide and serve the needs of our community.”

Rams Head

Category: Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

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