Mill Creek Library In-person services will open next week
After more than a year of closed doors, they are open once again
Last updated 7/6/2021 at 1:26pm
With COVID restrictions beginning to loosen, the Mill Creek Sno-Isle Library prepares to open its doors for its first in-person operations in over a year. The library had a soft opening on Monday, June 14, to test the waters and see how they can best approach a full opening in the coming weeks. Formal announcements will be expected early next week.
Sno-Isle, which consists of 23 local libraries, has had varying operations and reopening processes for each location. Factors such as the number of staff members, how busy the library is, and how large the facility is help determine whether or not the library can safely reopen under COVID guidelines. The Mill Creek Library is the 22nd to open.
"We are a small yet busy library,'' Darlene Weber, the manager of the Mill Creek Library, said. "During the last year, being open for contact-free services, we have circulated more items than buildings that are much larger than us."
Part of what has delayed their opening is having to take over the entire library building to socially distance the staff. Normally the staff would be working in a small workroom in the back, but with social distancing guidelines, that has been a particular challenge, according to Weber.
"IT and Facilities made a site visit recently to determine the feasibility of opening to the public while remaining compliant to COVID guidelines," she said.
Summer can become especially busy for the library with families trying to encourage their kids to continue reading over the break. According to Weber, families have checked out hundreds of books at a time.
"It was my hope that we would be able to open for kids and families to register for Summer Reading and browse for books," she said.
"My goal is to give kids and families as much of a normal reading experience as we can."
The soft launch on Monday was to test in-person operations ahead of a full launch to see what is working and what could improve. Several families have already dropped in for a visit.
"Just this morning, parents have been coming in, and their kids are just beaming because now they can go check the books out themselves and be able to go through the shelves," Weber said. "So far it seems like it's going really well."
To adjust and accommodate the limitations that COVID restrictions bring, various features of the library have had to downgrade.
The area that used to be for the library computers has been entirely repurposed as the staff working area due to the limited capacity of the workroom in the back. Two computers located in the teen section will be available. There is a single printer for customers to use. Seating and study areas are also limited.
During the pandemic, there have been many new additions to the library's programs. Online reading programs for kids and teens have been much more accessible. Library customers who want to access printing have also been able to digitally send their files to the library to be printed and picked up in envelopes. The library has also been hosting online events for adult reading groups with activities and games like 'trivia night' and has been very successful, according to Weber.
"As we move back to the public library into our in-building services, we're looking at what was successful when we had our doors closed and what we want to keep," she said. "We want to see what was successful this last year that we want to keep and what we want going back in person."