A Re-Opening of SJCPLS Libraries

We know that our residents are anxious for SJCPLS libraries to fully open and provide a broader range of services. However, our most important obligation is to operate with a heightened degree of safety and protection for our patrons and for the library staff. We cannot eliminate all risk as we re-open, but we are taking a variety of measures designed to minimize safety concerns.

Libraries are inherently social spaces, with many design features that encourage people to work closely together. One of our first challenges related to re-purposing the layout, furnishings, and equipment of our libraries was to adjust procedures to better provide greater social distancing and help people maintain secure, separate spheres of safety. Secondly, we faced a number of issues related to cleaning supplies (and corresponding shortages!), protective gear, and dealing with a number of different points of contact.

Due to these shortages, and the need to carefully transform our library facilities, the Library Management Team, in cooperation with the Library Advisory Board, developed a re-opening process broken into 2-3 week increments. Each of these phases integrates the levels of access of the prior stage and continues those services while providing progressively greater access to the library. These stages began in May 2020 and are summarized here:

1. May 5th: Curbside pick-up of library materials on hold, three days per week.
2. May 19th: Walk-inside pick-up of library materials on hold, three days per week.
3. June 2nd: Open browsing of library stacks, check-out of materials, one-hour use of public computers. Services expanded to five days per week.
4. June 30th through September 1st:

i. Continue open hours Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
ii. Continued use of facial masks by library staff and strongly recommended for use by patrons interacting with library staff.
iii. Continue 3-day quarantine of returned library materials.
iv. Continued one-hour use of public computers.
v. All library programming will remain virtual, including the Summer Reading program.
vi. No use of public meeting rooms.
vii. Restoration and collection of library fines and fees.
viii. Restoration of Notary, faxing, and public copier services.
ix. No collection of donated materials.

Library management and a variety of stakeholders will continue to be in regular conversation throughout the summer, analyzing these issues and what is the best plan for the library system moving forward. Our goal is to move forward in a unified fashion and serve our patrons in a safe, supportive manner in these new realities.


Debra Rhodes Gibson

Library System Director, St. Johns County Public Library System