New Farmington Library policies cover masks, social distancing

When patrons finally return to Farmington Community Library buildings, they’ll find an experience that includes mandatory masks and social distancing.

Library trustees on Thursday approved policies that leave no doubt over the seriousness of measures designed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The library’s 6-phase reopening plan, currently in phase 2, first allows patrons access to the building in phase 4. Curbside pick-up, in phase 3, begins July 6; no future specific dates have been announced.

Patrons aged 2 and up will be required to wear a face mask or face covering and practice social distancing, Director Riti Grover said during the electronic meeting. A mask must reach from the bridge of the nose to the chin, fully covering nose and mouth, and masks will be provided for patrons who don’t have one.

Under the social distancing policy, patrons who are alone or in family groups must remain six feet away from staff, other patrons and family groups. Grover said the library has marked the floor in frequently used areas, and patrons must comply with posted signage and visible markers. In addition, they may not walk around or lean over plexiglass barriers at the checkout counters and other service areas.

“If a patron is unable to comply with the policy, they are asked to call … and ask to speak to the manager in charge, who will provide necessary accommodations,” Grover said. “Patrons refusing to comply may be asked to leave the library.”

Enforcement may include suspension, police 

The response to noncompliant patrons concerned trustee Jessica Bomarito, who asked, “What steps will be taken if a patron is noncompliant and gets violent or physical?”

Consulting attorney Mike Blum said staff would “treat it the same as enforcement of any other library policy pertaining to patrons,” first trying to de-escalate the situation and encourage voluntary compliance. If a patron is asked to leave, the question becomes whether it’s just for that moment or a longer period of time.

“It’s a last course of action, but you always have the option of having the director call the police,” he said.

Grover said that the library does not have a de-escalation policy, but the patron behavior policy starts with a verbal request to comply, followed by a written request. A person who remains noncompliant will be suspended.

Trustee Bill Largent asked whether the decision to call police could be made by staff members.

Blum said that’s possible, but the library “can’t have inconsistent application of the policy or inconsistencies in how patrons are treated.”

“That obviously could cause some problems,” he said. “Training is going to be important.”

Grover said appointed staff members at the Farmington and Farmington Hills buildings have the authority to call police if the director is unavailable.

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