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Washington Public Library open by appointment only, continuing precautions

Visitors to the Washington Public Library are required to wear a mask upon entrance. Patrons are being accepted by appointment only. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)
Visitors to the Washington Public Library are required to wear a mask upon entrance. Patrons are being accepted by appointment only. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)

WASHINGTON — The Washington Public Library has adapted multiple practices to ensure the safety of visitors.

So far, it’s smooth sailing.

“It’s been going really well. We’ve been able to work everybody in on the day they need,” said Director Bryna Walker.

All services, with the exception of genealogy, have been open by appointment only. Coming in September, Walker anticipates “express browsing” where patrons will be allowed to come into the building in 30-minute increments to check out books. Four computers stations will be available as well, she said.

Curbside pickup of books has become the new norm over the past few months and has been a success, Walker said.

“We’ll continue with that as our main service for circulation because of the safety aspect of it,” she said.

For those who need to use the computer services but would not like to come into the building, mobile printing will be made available. Patrons will be able to connect to the printers in the facility via their own phones or computers. Staff will then bring the papers to the front where patrons can pick them up.

One change the library cannot make is allowing students to return. However, make-and-take bags have been created for early-out days when students would typically be welcomed into the library.

“We’re sad that we can’t open the doors, but it would go over quota, and we don’t want to have to kick people out,” she said. “We’re still trying to keep a controlled environment until we know further down the line what school is going to look like.”

A book club for teens and tweens is available beginning Sept. 1, and a virtual discussion will follow in October, Walker said.

In order to decide if the library will open or not, Walker said she consults with other library directors in the southeast Iowa region as well as a consultant in Dubuque who tracks what other libraries in the state are doing, she said. The decisions are based on safety and healthy precautions.

“Because we have demographics of all ages here, one of the biggest fears is we’re going to integrate too many people together,” she said of keeping the doors closed until further notice.

Appointments can still be made for those interested in utilizing any of the libraries services.