COVID Preparedness & Response Plan

COVID Preparedness & Response Plan


Updated August 27, 2020

We are working hard to serve you in new ways! Thank you for your patience and understanding as the library navigates the pandemic and works to plan for and provide online, contactless and in-person services to our community. The following information summarizes our COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. If you have questions or need additional information, call us at 651-275-4338 or email


What is the library’s reopening plan?  The library has developed a reopening plan which brings back different aspects of our services in phases. The library will move along the phase continuum based on public health recommendations and the availability of PPE equipment. Movement may progress both forward and backward along the continuum in response to the risk of COVID spread at the library and in the community and in response to guidelines issued by the CDC, the state, and other public health organizations.

What is the library’s current phase?  The library is currently in the yellow phase – Express Services. During Express Services, we welcome you into the building for short visits of 60-minutes or less. Express hours are Wednesdays from 1 PM – 7 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM – 2 PM. Stop in to check out materials, use a computer, and copy, print or scan. Face masks and social distancing will be required of all staff and patrons. Curbside pick-up continues with a new schedule:  Tuesdays from 10 AM – 2 PM and Thursdays from 1 PM – 7 PM. Learn more about Express Services and what to expect at the library.

How has the library moved along the phase plan?  The library entered the red phase of Virtual Services on March 17. For a brief period in late March, the library offered curbside services. When the Governor’s Stay at Home order took effect on March 27, these services were paused. On April 14, the library formally moved into the orange phase and resumed Curbside Services. These services continued through August. Book Bundles (library materials selected by staff based on a genres requested by patrons) and hotspots (wireless wi-fi connections) were added as items available through curbside pick-up. By August, the library averaged 400 patron pick-ups per week. During the public closure, staff also stayed busy providing virtual programming, planning new services and participating in virtual training sessions to expand library services and customer service skills. On August 26, the library moved to the yellow phase of Express Services, opening the library for brief visits to browse, pick up materials, and use a computer. Curbside pick-up services also continue.


Visiting the Library During the Express Services Phase

Why am I limited to a one-hour visit?  The governor’s Executive Order requires the library to limit capacity. In order to help limit the number of people in the building at any one time and to help lessen the chance of any prolonged exposure to COVID-19 by library patrons and staff, we are asking patrons to limit their visits to the library to an hour’s time. 

Why can’t I use a study room or use general seating?  We will be following CDC guidelines for disinfecting our spaces. We need to limit the number of surfaces needing to be disinfected and also limit the number of people in the building at any one time. For that reason, some portions of our building need to remain closed during this time.

Why can’t I access the Friends book sale area?  To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are not accepting book donations that provide the source materials for the book sale area. We also are minimizing the number of transactions requiring contact between staff and the public. In the interim, this area will be used to provide socially distanced work areas for staff to process curbside requests and assist patrons.

Why can’t my kids play in the loft area?   We are saddened that we needed to close our indoor play spaces. We know they are well-loved by children and parents and that they will be missed. Because there are so many commonly touched items in the loft and children tend to congregate close together, we’ve decided that closing this area is our safest option. 

Where are all the toys in the play area?  To prevent exposure to COVID-19, we are currently storing all toys. 

Why are only a limited number of computer stations open?  In order to practice good social distancing in the time of COVID-19, we needed to reduce the number of workstations available for use to allow for adequate spacing between people. The designated work stations allow our patrons to use the computers while maintaining a safe distance based on CDC recommendations. 

Why did my computer session shut down after 50 minutes?   To limit the number of patrons in the library, we are asking that people limit their total stay to one hour. This will allow more people to visit the library throughout the course of the day and have access to the resources they need while minimizing their exposure to staff and others.   

Are there in-person programs?  We can’t wait to start providing in-person programs at the library again; however, at this time, it’s not yet safe to bring groups of people together. We will monitor public health conditions to determine when it’s safe to resume programming. Check out our event calendar for online classes and programs for kids, teens and adults!

Can I reserve meeting rooms for my event/group?  In an effort to follow CDC and public health guidelines around social distancing, room capacity and cleaning/disinfecting, we are currently not allowing room rentals or future bookings.

Is there a dedicated time for at-risk people only?  This idea was considered; however because at-risk people are not always easily identifiable by sight, it would be hard to decide who is at-risk and who is not. As such, enforcing a policy like this could lead to discrimination. Our best path forward is making the library a safe environment for our patrons during all open hours to minimize risk. We are happy to recommend hours that the library is less busy if that would be helpful.

Why are drinking fountains closed?  As the surfaces around the fountain, including the spout and button, could pose a risk for transmission of COVID, the drinking fountains have been closed.

Is the St. Croix Collection available for use during Express Services?  The St. Croix Collection room and its resources will be available for research using upon request during library Express Hours. Maximum capacity for this room is currently two.

Is the Johnson Terrace open?  The Johnson Terrace will be open for public use during Express Hours; however, the meeting room and gallery wing will be closed. Access to the terrace will be through the double-doors by the upper level rotunda.

Is ILL or MnLINK services available?  Yes, interlibrary loan requests from across Minnesota are now being processed.

Do patrons have to wear masks in the library?  For the safety of our entire community, we are requiring all people, over the age of 5, using the library to wear a mask. If you forgot your mask, don’t worry, we will give you one. For patrons who have a condition that prevents the use of a face mask, we ask that you do not come into the library and, instead, utilize the library’s virtual and contactless services. For options and assistance in accessing library materials and resources, please call us at 651-275-4338.

Is the library accepting book donations yet?  We are working hard to prepare and manage many new procedures to keep staff and patrons safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a 72-hour quarantine of all items. Unfortunately, we are not ready to begin accepting book donations at this time and will revisit this decision in the fall. 

Are fines and fees being assessed?  During this time, the library is trying to provide as much flexibility as possible to patrons in keeping and renewing materials. We are more concerned about getting materials returned to the library for continued patron use than incurring fees. If you have any questions about your account, please call us at 651-275-4338.

What is the library doing to keep the space clean and safe?  The library has developed a disinfecting protocol in accordance with CDC and public health guidelines and recommendations. Protocol actions include: 

  1. Quarantining returned materials for at least 72 hours before they are returned to the library collection. 
  2. Staff wearing personal protection equipment throughout the day, including masks. Masks will also be made available for patrons.
  3. Cleaning touched surfaces with greater frequency using guidelines and products recommended by the health department.
  4. Reducing branch occupancy numbers to allow for social distancing within the library.

What is the library doing to keep materials clean and safe?  The library is following guidelines issued by the CDC regarding how long the virus lives on surfaces. The library’s protocol now includes quarantining returned materials for at least 72 hours before they are returned to the library collection. Items will remain checked into your library account during the quarantine period, and we will waive any assessed fees. We will continue to monitor CDC guidelines and will revise our protocol based on changes in recommendations.