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Spokane County library system to reopen buildings Nov. 12

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 29, 2020

Math tutor Charissa Cooley works with a student in the upper level of the Spokane Valley Library in a photo taken in April of 2014. The Spokane County Library District is reopening its 11 buildings next month.   (Rebecca White / The Spokesman-Review)
Math tutor Charissa Cooley works with a student in the upper level of the Spokane Valley Library in a photo taken in April of 2014. The Spokane County Library District is reopening its 11 buildings next month.  (Rebecca White / The Spokesman-Review)

Check it out: Libraries in parts of the Spokane area are about to reopen, and soon.

No official announcement has been made, but The Spokesman-Review has learned that the Spokane County Library District will reopen all 11 of its buildings Nov. 12.

“We’re looking forward to reopening, because we really enjoy having people in our buildings,” Jane Baker, communications director for the county district, confirmed Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the city system, the Spokane Public Library, will expand operations beginning next week to allow patrons to enter buildings for “grab and go” pickup of reserved materials and limited browsing, said Amanda Donovan, director of marketing and communications.

The expanded service will be by appointment only, Donovan said.

Spokane Public Library already allows limited use of its computers, by appointment only.

In the Spokane County system, even as the buildings begin to reopen, there still will be limitations.

Seats and comfy reading chairs will be gone, and patrons will be asked to limit visits to 30 minutes.

“It’s going to look a little different,” Baker said.

And to comply with social-distancing guidelines, occupancy will be cut to roughly one-fourth of the capacity set by local fire departments.

For example, that means the Spokane Valley branch will allow up to 44 people at one time, while the smaller Airway Heights branch will accommodate only 7.

“If you’re that eighth person, you might have to wait a while,” Baker said.

The county libraries will be open Monday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Curbside pickup services will be continued.

“We’re also dedicating a time for senior citizens and high-risk customers,” Baker said. That will be on Tuesdays and Saturdays only, from 11 a.m. to noon.

The district will announce more details next week, Baker said.

“We wish it could be the way it was before, but we are going to abide by the guidelines,” Baker said.

Closed since March, library systems have been working to ramp up since revised state guidelines were issued in September.

For all counties in Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan, library occupancy – not counting employees – cannot exceed 25% of maximum determined by local fire officials. That would increase to 50% after Spokane County moves to Phase 3.

Patrons must wear face coverings at all times while inside the building and must observe 6-foot social distancing requirements as they wait to enter.

All libraries also will be ordered to place distance markers outside and are encouraged – though not required – to assign an employee to enforce the rule.

Moreover, libraries are expected to mark high-traffic areas and place “conspicuous signage” to alert staff and customers on the COVID policies.

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