On March 22, the state moved to Phase 3 of its Healthy Washington plan.
While it is great news that King County is flattening the COVID-19 curve, the King County Library System will continue to proceed with care and caution as we prepare to reopen more libraries during this next phase.
On March 3, KCLS safely reopened six libraries with modified in-building services in accordance with Phase 2 requirements for masks, social distancing, and 25% capacity limits. I had the pleasure of visiting Kent and it was wonderful to see how happy patrons were to be back inside a library. One little girl wore a party dress to celebrate her visit! At the Tukwila Library, staff reported that one patron danced her way into the building, while others took selfies as they stood waiting in line at Woodmont.
Children, teens and adults browsed collections, checked out books and chatted with staff through plexiglass shields at information desks. Some patrons used computers - spaced six feet apart - to check emails, sign up for vaccination appointments, or look for jobs. And everyone was patient as buildings closed intermittently so staff could clean and disinfect spaces.
Many patrons told us that even with COVID-19 limitations, re-entering libraries made them feel as if life is returning to “normal.”
We love to hear this. KCLS has been tireless in its efforts to provide a semblance of normalcy during this pandemic. Although our buildings closed last March, the library never did. We adapted and reinvented programs and services for an online environment to keep people connected to information and to each other. We developed contactless Curbside to Go and locker services so patrons could pick up holds safely. And our Mobile Services department kept rolling—literally—serving our community’s most vulnerable residents at assisted living facilities and other locations.
And we will keep on delivering services in as many ways as we can.
We know there is nothing like being inside one of our beautiful libraries. With 1.1 million cardholders, we are as eager as you are for all buildings to be open. Until then, we will continue to move forward within the guidelines that the state's health plan allows, and always with a continued focus on the safety of our patrons and staff.
Stay connected with us at kcls.org for more information as more libraries reopen in the weeks ahead.