The Nelson Public Library now has takeout service for books and printouts in addition to its online offerings. Photo submitted

CHECK THIS OUT: Reopening the library will be measured and gradual

It’s not know when service will return to normal, but a plan lays out some of the steps

By Avi Silberstein

If you’ve been listening to Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix over the past few months (and we hope you have!), you might have heard Dr. Henry issue the following guide to reopening the province: “We want to move slowly and thoughtfully.” As British Columbians continue to emerge from their quarantine cocoons, the Nelson Public Library is taking Dr. Henry’s words to heart when planning our own reopening.

Rather than reopening all at once, our library is taking a multi-phased approach — one which we have developed by working with libraries across Canada, while ensuring it fits our community best. We are currently in Phase 3, and are offering our Library Takeaway service, in which patrons pick up bags of books to take home. This week we also launched our Mobile Printing Takeaway service, in which you can send print jobs directly to our printer, then pick them up and pay for them at a pre-scheduled time.

Phase 4, which may commence sometime in July/August, will consist of a partial opening of the library. This will definitely not be a return to normal library function, but rather a pared-down version. Our hours will be limited, we will have an occupancy limit, there will be no seating, public computers will not be available, and our washrooms will be closed. We will continue to offer online programs rather than in-person ones.

At some point in August/September, we will transition to Phase 5. Our open hours will be expanded, some seating will be available (physically distant, of course), and washrooms will be open. Public computers will be available on a limited basis. We may consider outdoor programs at this point.

The sixth and final phase will bring about a return to more-or-less normal library function. There is no estimated start date for this phase, as you can probably imagine. There is far too much uncertainty — both globally and locally — to be able to hazard a guess.

In our community’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the library must be part of the solution. The best way we can serve our patrons now is to help contain the virus, especially as our patrons include many seniors and others that are high risk. And it is for that reason that our reopening plan must be measured and gradual.

I’ll give the last word to Dr. Henry, who said this about reopening our province: “A steady stream will be far more successful than a rushing river.”

Avi Silberstein is the children’s librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information on all things Nelson library go to

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