Editor’s note: Farmington Community Library Director Riti Grover recently spoke with Farmington Voice about FCL’s phased re-opening plan, what patrons can expect in the coming weeks, and her view of the library’s future. This is the first of several articles based on that conversation.
On Tuesday, Farmington Community Library patrons will venture inside of the Farmington and Farmington Hills library buildings for the first time in almost six months.
Director Riti Grover announced the COVID-19 closure on March 13, just after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed all Michigan K-12 schools. Since that time, Grover and a team of staff members have developed a re-opening plan that enters a new phase this week.
Masks, time limits
Grover said patrons can expect an experience “as pleasant as possible, but at the same time, it has to be as safe as possible.” To that end, everyone must wear masks and will have a 30-minute time limit (on the honor system) while inside buildings.
“We will have at least one or two greeters at the gate,” Grover said. “We will try to ensure that if they cannot come in with a mask, how we can address their needs.”
While children’s materials will be available for check out, toys and other “hands on” items will not be on display. Grover said those cannot be cleaned and sanitized as quickly or thoroughly as necessary.
If parents have been taking their children to other places, the library also welcomes them “with open arms,” Grover said. Children must be accompanied by an adult, who can provide gentle reminders about mask wearing and the time limit.
“When they come in on the very first day, I hope they will receive a welcome gift that we will have for our little patrons,” she said. “We have missed them terribly, and we hope to bring a smile to their faces.”
In the “new normal”, there will be no access to computers (but that is coming soon, Grover said), study rooms, or meeting rooms, and many furnishings have been removed to facilitate cleaning.
Patrons will find some normalcy as well, with reference librarians available behind plexiglass shields, and the opportunity to browse stacks, pick up holds, and renew or apply for a library card. Librarians will encourage use of self-checkout stations, to keep personal contact to a minimum, Grover said.
In addition to more frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces – every 2-3 hours – the library’s “absolutely awesome” facilities staff will deep clean the buildings each evening, she added. Returned materials go through an ultraviolet sanitizing machine, in addition to being quarantined.
“The most important consideration is to be prepared for a new world,” Grover said. “We are working to provide the best experience in the safest way… Every decision since March has been ruled by that.”
The Farmington and Farmington Hills libraries, at 23500 Liberty St. and 32737 W. 12 Mile Rd., respectively, will be open 12-6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. on Saturday. Curbside service, in place since July, has proved popular and will continue, Grover said.
To learn more and view the library’s complete reopening plan, visit farmlib.org.