King County is approved for Phase 1.5, and KCLS takes the next step

The Washington State Department of Health has granted King County’s request to proceed to a modified Phase 1.5, and I’m pleased to say this means the King County Library System also can advance beyond Phase 1 under the state’s multi-phase Safe Start plan.

At long last, we’re moving ahead, and that is good news.

We will do so cautiously to ensure the safety of our staff amid real and ongoing concerns about the coronavirus. But the approval of King County Executive Dow Constantine’s modified-phase request is a welcome development. We’re delighted, because it brings us one step closer to Phase 2, which includes public offerings such as Curbside To Go, a service allowing patrons to pick up holds at select locations.

Phase 1.5 allows some staff to return to our Service Center on staggered schedules, wearing masks and social distancing. As of today, June 8, I am working in my office. It feels great to be back!

We know our patrons have missed personal interactions with staff and having access to our entire collection, and we have appreciated your patience. But KCLS’ Path to Reopening is activated and we are proceeding as follows:

Phase 1.5 (where we are now as of June 8) – All libraries remain closed to the public, but some staff are allowed in buildings with physical distancing and health protocols in place. Select book return sites will gradually open with strict guidelines.

Phase 2 – All libraries remain closed to the public, but KCLS will begin a multi-phase rollout of services such as Curbside To Go and limited mobile outreach delivery. Staff are allowed in buildings with physical distancing and health protocols in place.

Phase 3 – Some or all libraries are open to the public with modified operations. Libraries have limited hours. KCLS will determine services and access to technology, which may vary by location. Curbside To Go and mobile outreach continue to roll out, but no large public gatherings or events are allowed inside libraries. Meeting and study rooms remain closed.

Phase 4 – All libraries are open to the public and full-service operations resume. Meeting and study rooms are open pending Library Administration approval, and large public gatherings are permitted inside libraries.

We are gratified that patrons of all ages have continued to connect with us through a broad range of online programs and resources. You have continued to learn and grow by tapping into our extensive databases and through virtual business, professional development, student tutoring and other educational opportunities. You have spent hours reading eBooks, watching movies, taking classes and streaming events. Let’s continue to stay connected, through Summer Reading and many other online offerings. We are in this together – and we are all moving ahead.