By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
It’s safety first when it comes to library browsing these days.
Currently, browsing at the Westwood Public Library is by appointment only. Those who wish to browse are asked to wear a mask during the entirety of their visit for the safety of themselves and other patrons. Gloves are also available for patrons to use if needed and hand sanitizing stations can be found throughout the library. 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays are strictly reserved for seniors and high-risk patrons.
During each session, three groups, each made of up to four people. Patrons can find the link to signup using the calendar located here. Each party can include four people for each session, with three groups that can take advantage of the express browsing appointments.
Those who book an appointment will notice that there are a few layout changes to the library. Those arriving for limited browsing will now use the library’s porch doors, rather than the front door, to enter the building - and go directly to the community room, where the limited browsing area is located. The staff now has plexiglass shields around the checkout station. Contactless self-checkout is also available in the library for patrons who wish to minimize interaction with staff or other individuals during their visit. “We have set up the community room as an adult and [young adult] browsing area. The children’s collections have been moved to the gallery area. It’s not the complete collection, but a high-demand, high-interest collection,” explains Library Director Tricia Perry. These selected collections are replenished by staff throughout the day as books are borrowed.
There are, of course, so many books that they can’t all be in the limited browsing area. “It depends on staffing and the number of people in the space at a time. If it’s possible for us to easily retrieve an item, we will try to do that. If there are too many people in the space at once and we can’t find someone to be a runner, we’ll put the book they requested on hold and it should be available the next day for curbside pickup,” says Perry.
The library closes daily between one and three. During that time, the staff ensures that proper sanitization steps are taken. “We have an electrostatic sanitization process that goes on with a sprayer. All the surfaces are sprayed down. Any materials that were touched and put into baskets for collection are removed and quarantined for 24 hours. Any types of touchpoints are wiped down and cleaned. The bathrooms are sanitized and cleaned again,” says Perry. “I feel like we’ve done a lot when it comes to safety precautions. Our primary focus is to ensure the safety of the staff and the public.”
Staff and patrons are happy to be back in the library. Whether it’s for limited browsing or curbside pickup, it’s a relief for both parties to have some semblance of normalcy back in their lives.