Jeffco libraries book in business

Some locations reopen doors while curbside pickups continue


Jefferson County’s libraries are no longer checked out.

After a nearly four-month long closure, Arvada'’s Standley Lake Library became the first in the Jefferson County Public Library system to reopen its doors to a public eager to do everything from browse for new books to check their email online on July 13.

The Golden, Lakewood and Columbine libraries followed later that week, although other libraries with a total of eight opening by the end of July.

The move to open the libraries was spurred by a change to the Gov. Jared Polis’ public health order that allowed such facilities to reopen their doors after previoustly being limited to providing items to the public via curbside pickup.

Director of Libraries Julianne Rist said early indications were that people were eager to get back to their libraries, with the Standley Lake branch reporting over 800 visitors and 3,200 checkouts in the first two days it was back open.

“People were really happy to come back,” Rist said. “We had happy tears and skipping children.”

But while those visitors were clearly happy to be back in a familiar space, the libraries they are returning to look markedly different than they did in March when the doors closed.

For one, much of the furniture has been removed and that which remains has now been carefully placed at least six feet apart (with signage indicating that all furniture is not to be moved). Then there are the glass guards placed around all computers.

Also, don’t expect to visit the library between 1-2 p.m. It’s now closed for an hour of cleaning. While no visit to a public space is without COVID-19 risk, Rist said the library is taking steps to protect visitor safety and make them feel better about visiting the library.

“We’re following guidelines from CDC and Jefferson County Health in terms of cleaning and disinfecting,” she said. “We’re trying to mitigate all the risks that we can.”

But Rist said the library also knows that not everyone is ready to come back just yet. That’s why it is continuing to provide the same curbside pickup service it has been providing for the past month.

The libraries have also decided they will not be offering any in-person programs for the foreseeable future, which means things like story times will continue in an online format. In fact, Rist now says it is possible many online offerings will continue even after the threat of COVID-19 has been mitigated.

“A lot of the feedback we’ve heard, especially for our story times, is people are enjoying it (online) and that there is a little more flexibility than trying to get to the library for the program,” Rist said. “Folks seem to like the convenience of things.”

Most of the library’s other core services are now available, including computer access, printing and faxing. However, use of computers and study rooms is limited to one hour and not currently reservable online. Users instead are asked to check for availability when they visit.

Rist said being able to reopen the doors, even with the changes, is nonetheless a big step forward.

“We can do a lot more with opening buildings then we can with curbside just because of the staffing and the amount of time each curbside appointment takes,” said Rist. “It also allows residents to have choice over how they’d like to receive their materials. I’ve heard a lot from people that are so excited to browse the shelves and pick out their own titles rather then having to go through the catalogue and request specific things.”


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