Post - An Update on Reopening Timeframes

An Update on Reopening Timeframes for Vermont Public Libraries - 5/17/20, 6:30 pm

Good Evening Everyone,
I have a strong belief you are navigating the shared experience and impacts of the COVID19 outbreak with resilience, fortitude, perseverance, and finding joy in the smallest of things during this time.

Tomorrow (May 18th) is a very important action in reopening a variety of businesses in a slow phased in approach through specific steps as required by the Agency of Commerce & Community Development (ACCD) and Governor Scott’s orders. To view the latest update from the New Work Safe Stay Safe Order please view this information with this link: https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-be-smart-stay-safe-order

In the days and weeks to come ACCD will work to restart Vermont’s economy in the wake of COVID-19. Understanding the need to restart the economy as soon as possible and improve our overall social wellbeing, we cannot allow for a resurgence of COVID-19 that would undermine or lose the important public health outcomes achieved to date.  Our work to transition Vermont out from under the Stay Home order swiftly and responsibly will take just as much effort and goodwill as we have all expended in recent weeks. Working closely with the Health Department, the State Emergency Operations Center, and dedicated professionals across State government, we have developed, and will continue to refine, critical steps to ensure the health and safety of Vermonters and the continuity of our healthcare system.

Libraries are not included on the May 18th reopening timeframes for retail establishments. While libraries have aspects that are similar to retail establishments, they are not the same. Libraries have a variety of congregation points, logistical operations, and services that must be addressed to ensure access and safety. Additionally, libraries have connected stakeholders such as a Board of Trustees and an associated municipality that may have a strong interest in supporting the library while also ensuring public safety for Vermonters. In understanding this sentiment, libraries are being asked to continue with curbside, virtual, and socially distant library services until further notice. This does not mean libraries should not begin considering, with anticipation, what reopening will mean for their facility, staff, and community. Continue to plan and obtain all necessary items for a reopening in the near future. A timeframe is being examined and will arrive very soon!

In order to respond to these phases and to determine the appropriate service level for your library, the Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLIB) recommends that your Board of Trustees approve a written plan for any service provision—be it curbside, delivery, or staged reopening—and, where appropriate, have that plan vetted by your local municipality. When you have plans and strategies in place, preparing for the reopening and its daily challenges will allow your library to quickly adapt, be flexible, and adjust or stop operations efficiently. To view the Department of Libraries guidance on reopening, please click this this link: https://libraries.vermont.gov/covid19/reopeninginformation

Each Vermont public library has the power to make decisions on if and how to provide services under the advisement of the library board and stakeholders such as the municipality and community leaders (if applicable). Libraries should weigh the potential vulnerability of community members, staff, and participating volunteers when deciding how to proceed. They should also consider long term budget ramifications of any service levels. Note: All libraries must adhere to the orders put forth by the Governor of Vermont.

Your State Librarian has continual conversations with a variety of officials within ACCD and our associated task force action team (Local Support and Community Action Team) to ensure we are provided with the latest requirements for cultural institutions. Everyone understands the importance of libraries within the community and is working to examine applicable timeframes that will make it safe for libraries to open their doors to the public. With that being said, everyone should expect to have a limited number of people within library spaces, adjustments to browsing book stacks, sanitation of public computers / staff workplaces / and logistical operations once ACCD provides guidance for an applicable date to reopen.

I will provide an update on reopening this Friday, May 22nd.

I ask that you continue to be resilient during this time and connect with the Department of Libraries on questions about reopening guidance. To view our staff directory, please click here, https://libraries.vermont.gov/contact_us/directory

Your State Librarian,
Jason