Joe Zelwietro, chief librarian at Prince Rupert Library, said the city library is moving to Phase 3 of its plan to increase services to patrons. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Joe Zelwietro, chief librarian at Prince Rupert Library, said the city library is moving to Phase 3 of its plan to increase services to patrons. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Library gradually increases patron services

Computers now available for public use

The Prince Rupert Library is gradually increasing its services as it adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The library has been open during COVID-19 — but it’s not like it’s an open or shut book, Joe Zelwietro chief librarian said. The library has been open, but just operating in different ways.

“We have had some services throughout. What we want to do is increase services to at least what we did have or better.”

As of Aug. 26, people can now use the library computers with a time limit of 30 minutes per user and a limit of four people using computers at any one time.

Printing, faxing, scanning to email and photocopying services have also resumed. Zelwietro said these are popular services and since the welcomed reinstatement there has been “consistent everyday people use.”

Circulation is down and anxieties are up, Zelwietro said, which is to be expected in such changing times.

“It’s been interesting too because while we are opening, there has been an increase in anxiety because of the rise in COVID cases in B.C. with the Haida Gwaii exposure, and now the Nisga’a exposure, the return to school is also causing the staff and public some anxiety.”

“The library is the heart of the community, so it’s been hard not having people in asking questions and reading,” Zelwietro said. “We put more items on line. The province purchased more digital books … there has been some increase in the use of our digital books.”

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“We’ve changed our way of doing things. It’s been hard for staff and the public both, as changes have had to be made with how everyone interacts with each other. The amount of signs we have to put up is crazy.”

The library has a joint reopening working management and union group to ensure everyones safety.

“We have been going through the Worksafe BC plan day after day. It changes from time to time depending on what the provincial health officer is recommending, what BCCDC is recommending, what the union feels safe and is accepting. It’s a balance,” he said.

To further ensure the safety of patrons, an online catalogue of new items with photos of the covers is available. New items are also displayed in the front windows. Plus, Zelwietro said, there is an online search tool that allows book recommendations based on readers history and genres preferences.

And for those who need to take exams and who require an invigilator, that service is once again available.

As well, the library’s public washrooms are available as is the public payphone and people can use the library’s courtesy phone for brief local calls.

While wearing a mask inside the library is not mandatory, their use is optional and patrons are asked to bring their own.

The above services are gathered under Phase 3 of the library’s pandemic response.

Phase 2, introduced earlier, features the library’s curbside pickup service in which patrons, using the library’s website, can borrow books and other material, new users can register for a library card and replacement cards can be issued.

For curbside pickup, items that have been requested will be confirmed via phone by library staffers and a pick up time then established.

Pick up times are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Patrons must bring their library card to show staffers and must respect physical distancing.

Items being returned need to be placed in the blue book bin.

For younger readers, the library is continuing its ‘grab bag’ service in which, if requested, staffers will choose a selection of books.

Home delivery, for those who need the service, continues.

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K-J Millar | Journalist 

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