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Read all about it! Public libraries are reopening with safety measures in place. Contact your local library to see what services are available.

Public libraries are important community resources; they connect people with information, services and entertainment, and provide a sense of community. 

The phased reopening of BC’s public libraries continues, with limited services and strict health and safety measures in place. 
When you return to your local public library, you will notice some changes. These changes, made to help keep everyone safe, include:

  • limiting the number of people inside, to support physical distancing
  • putting up barriers, like plexiglass, where physical distancing can’t be maintained
  • supporting hand hygiene
  • cleaning and disinfecting more often
Check with your local library to find out what safety measures are in place and what you can do to support those measures.
Information for visitors

What you can do to keep yourself and others safe during your visit to the library 

Stay home if you or your child feels sick or has symptoms of COVID-19

Before you go to the library, ask your child if they feel sick. If you, your child, or anyone in your household feel sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home.

Know before you go  

Because each library may be offering different services, it’s best to find out what you can expect at your branch before you go.
If you decide to go to your local public library and have no COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Call or go online to make sure that your location is open and to see what services are available. 
  • Plan your visit to limit how long you are at the library. This allows time and space for other people to use the library.
  • Make sure you bring everything you need, such as your library card, anything you wish to return, and a bag for anything you might borrow.
To find a public library near you, and to learn more each library’s services, you can use the interactive online Find a Public Library tool.

When you get to the library 

When you get to the library there are things you should do to help make sure you, your family and staff stay as safe as possible:

  • Read and follow any signs that are posted at the library, and follow any instructions from staff.
  • Stay 2 metres from people outside of your household or social group. Encourage children who are not from the same household or social group to avoid or limit direct physical contact.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands as soon as you enter the library.
  • Wearing a face mask is optional. Masks work best when they are used with other layers of protection, like physical distancing and hand washing. 

When you leave the library

When you are ready to leave the library, you are encouraged to wash or sanitize your hands. If you cannot wash or sanitize your hands before you leave, please do so as soon as you get home.

Can you get COVID-19 from books, DVDs or other library materials? 

The main way that COVID-19 spreads is person-to-person. The risk of getting sick from borrowed library items is very low:

  • There is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus spreads through books, paper or other paper-based products. 
  • Laminated or glossy paper-based products (e.g., magazines and children’s books) and items with plastic covers (e.g., DVDs) can be contaminated if handled by a person with COVID-19; however, even though a virus may be on a surface, that does not always mean it will be spread that way.
  • Libraries are not required to ‘quarantine’ or disinfect their loaned items; however, some libraries are taking this extra step. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can leave your borrowed library material in a bag for at least 72 hours.
Information for Operators

Libraries are an important community resource; libraries can operate safely during the pandemic using the following public health measures in addition to their COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Basic precautions

Ensure staff and customers are supported to adhere to COVID-19 precautions, including staying home if sick, maintaining physical distancing, and frequently washing hands. COVID-19 is most commonly transmitted by droplets from person to person through sneezing or coughing. Consider areas in the library where people tend to congregate (e.g., computer areas, reception desk) and install plexiglass barriers or floor markers to support safe physical distance, and provide hand sanitizer in these areas. 

How to manage loaned items and returns

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted via textbooks, paper or other paper-based products. Laminated or glossy paper-based products (e.g., magazines and children’s books) and items with plastic covers (e.g., DVDs) can be contaminated if handled by a person with COVID-19; however, the risk of transmission between users of borrowed items is very low. In areas with low transmission in the community, evidence does not require libraries to quarantine or disinfect their loaned items. The focus should remain on ensuring physical distance and providing supplies to ensure staff and customers can wash their hands. 

How to clean library spaces

Clean and disinfect the premises once a day, and clean and disinfect frequently touched items (door handles, shared desks, toilet handles) twice a day. For harder to clean equipment that is shared by multiple people, such as keyboards, consider having customers use a disinfecting spray or provide a keyboard cover that can be removed and cleaned separately. Place hand sanitizer in these areas, and post signs asking people to clean their hands before and after use. See more information on cleaning and disinfecting here.

For washrooms, toilet handles, tap handles, door handles, and counters should be cleaned and disinfected twice a day – full washroom cleaning and disinfection (mopping, scrubbing toilets, wiping down stalls, etc.) only needs to occur once a day.

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