By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Patrons had no idea that the Walpole Public Library’s sudden closure in March would last months. Since closing the doors months ago, staff and patrons alike have been eager to get back to some normalcy - and back into the library. They’ve been able to receive library materials through curbside pickup and home delivery, but have yet to step foot back into the building. While these services will continue, patrons now have an official date to look towards for the library’s reopening.
On August 3, the Walpole Public Library will begin its phased reopening. During this first phase, patrons will be able to call the circulation desk at (508-660-7340) to make an appointment to visit the library. For a half hour, patrons can browse the book collections and pick out ones that they may be searching for, or may catch their eye. Staff will be back to helping patrons who can’t find a title or need a recommendation. The library will be limiting it to five people or families visiting during each of these sessions.
While the library is reopening, there will be a few changes made to ensure the safety of everyone. Patrons are encouraged to check-out books using the OCLN meeScan app for smartphones. Information about using this handy app can be found on the library’s website here. Using the app will not only reduce the amount of contact patrons have in the library, but will make it so they don’t even have to wait in line. Visitors can use the app, check out, and enjoy their books at home.
Appointment use of the public internet workstations, the copier, fax machine, and scanner will also be opened. Patrons can make an appointment to this equipment by calling the Records Desk at (508-660-7341). Rather than walking into the main portion of the library, those wishing to use a computer and other technology will be directed to the Community Room.
Pending the success of this first reopening, staff is hoping to see the library return to its regular hours, with these precautions in place. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the building, and face masks will be required during visits.
The way patrons return books has also changed. The physical process is still the same: drop materials into the return box outside the library. But patrons may see a difference on their account. Late fines will also be waived for materials returned during the pandemic. “We understand that some people may not want to just leave their house just to come and return,” explains Director of the Walpole Public Library Sal Genovese. Returned materials will be quarantined for 96 hours to ensure that items are free from any COVID-19 germs, and that they are safe for more patrons to enjoy. “If people return items and they find that their items are still on their record, they will eventually come off. It’s just because they’re in quarantine and then we check them back in and shelve them after four days,” says Genovese.
Staff is excited to see patrons back in the building. “It’s been weird to come here and there’s just nobody,” says Genovese. “Just having people back is going to be great. People are excited and they want to come back. They miss it. I think it’s a familiar routine that people want to get back to make things feel a little bit more normal than they have been in the past few months.”
In a short amount of time, the Walpole Public Library will have its doors back open for visitors and staff alike - and patrons will have a bit of normalcy back in their lives.