So, we have a date for reopening public libraries across the UK! It’s provisional and subject to certain criteria being met but we’re all looking forward to the doors being thrown open on 12th April 2021, following the UK Government’s recognition of the vital role libraries play in the community in its COVID-19 response:
“Public buildings and spaces play a vital role in the economic and social life of communities. Libraries, and other community centres, are valuable and safe places, often to the most vulnerable groups in society. They provide both services to local communities and spaces to socialise. All public spaces have important benefits that help create local attachments and sense of belonging to a community.”
Libraries in education settings will have already been opening in line with the guidance from the Department of Education but ultimately all libraries will be facing the same challenges of how they can keep their staff and patrons safe moving forward.
During the pandemic, the team at D-Tech has been reviewing our products to see if we can make any relevant improvements and we have included some of the most appropriate in our top five ways to keep libraries safe throughout 2021.
Keep it clean
Maintaining high levels of hygiene in your library has never been more important. So, if you haven’t already, now may be a good time to review your cleaning procedures to make sure they still meet your needs. Give your library a quick once over to make sure hand sanitiser is available for use in the most vulnerable areas such as close to library self-checkout kiosks, stair handrails, lifts, and computers. If you offer a laptop loan service, you may want to find out about our new touch-free sanitising solution.
We fully understand the value of librarian & patron engagement. However, whilst COVID-19 continues to lurk it goes without saying the less interactions, the safer everyone is. How about offering a library app that enables reduced contact borrowing, using a patron’s own smartphone?
Touch screens are convenient and theoretically safe if cleaned and used appropriately (they are still widely used in hospitals for checking in, for example), but we believe contact-reducing solutions are a better option moving forward, and have made a number of updates to our products to make them reduced-contact wherever possible.
On the contact-reducing theme, libraries can now easily offer patrons a way to pay fines and fees using Contactless payments, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, thanks to next generation self-service kiosks.
Keep the numbers manageable
Using a real time occupancy monitoring and alerting solution can tell your patrons when it’s safe to enter your library by keeping a count of the number of people on the premises at any given moment. Solutions allows you to choose your safe occupancy limit, as this will be unique to your facility, and even exclude staff entering or exiting from affecting the count.
For some, staying at home will continue to be the safest option for just a little while longer. Especially as part of a combined effort to ensure that more vulnerable citizens have access to as many library services as possible. This may be through e-books, by out of hours collection or remote collection kiosks that limit risk by reducing contact, or thanks to some of the incredible people volunteering to safely drop books off to those who can’t attend in person.
For those passionate people across the world who have worked so hard in delivering #LibrariesFromHome – keep up the brilliant work!