Noel Wien Library reopens Bookmobile with limited services

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Noel Wien Library has resumed limited services through its Bookmobile, which stays parked outside the main library building. Although the main building remains closed, people can now pick up items they’ve placed on hold from the Bookmobile.

Items returned to the library by patrons are put in a 5-day quarantine before being added back into the collection. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)

According to Melissa Harter, the library’s director, one of the benefits of limiting service to the Bookmobile is the ability to serve all patrons who wish to borrow library materials. Instead of being limited to the 25 percent capacity mandated by Governor Dunleavy’s second phase of reopening Alaska, the Bookmobile is available for anyone who places items from the library on hold.

Materials can be returned in the book and media return bins, and all items, once returned, are placed in a five-day quarantine before being added back into the collection

Since its reopening on May 11th, Harter calculates that 450 patrons have made use of the library’s limited services.

In order to open the library’s main building to the public again, certain precautions need to be taken. Sneeze guards, cleaning materials and personal protective equipment need to be purchased, and methods of maintaining social distance need to be devised.

“As soon as we can get to the step where we’ve purchased all the items and set it up the way that we need to, to make it safe for staff and public, we’re going to gradually get people in to use services, probably computers first,” Harter said.

Although public use of the library building, as well as checkout of its physical materials, had been discontinued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the library continued providing reference services and children’s programming.

“In downward economic turns, public libraries are arguably the most important that they can be. People need a place to go, they need a place to apply for jobs, they need a place to apply for benefits, anything like that,” Harter said.

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