West Bloomfield Township Public Library's drive-thru exchange.
West Bloomfield Township Public Library's drive-thru exchange. (Photo courtesy of Danny Schwartz)

The Jewish News reached out to Detroit-area libraries, seeking details on their new rules and reopening guidelines since the pandemic.

Metro Detroit libraries are taking important steps in welcoming back their loyal customers as Michigan begins to reopen after months of quarantine due to COVID-19.

The Jewish News reached out to seven Detroit-area libraries, seeking details on how they dealt with the pandemic, their new rules and reopening guidelines and what services they’re currently able to provide.

Carol Mueller, the Director of Bloomfield Township Public Library, told the JN that the library closed down completely on March 14 except for book returns, which were open for another week, and only essential staff were allowed in the building.

Carol Mueller, Director of Bloomfield Township Public Library
Carol Mueller, Director of Bloomfield Township Public Library Photo courtesy of Danny Schwartz

“Just today (June 11) we opened drive-up returns again,” Mueller said. “And starting on Monday (June 16), we’re unveiling a brand new service, curbside pick-up, which means our patrons can call us or reserve items through the library’s catalog online, and those items will be pulled off the shelves, checked out to them and made available curbside at the library.”

Curbside pick-up is a tool many libraries are implementing. The West Bloomfield Township Public Library (WBTPL) began the service on June 8, according to Director Clara Bohrer.

“All of our services are revolving around curbside pick-up,” Bohrer said. “We’ve also opened all the exterior book drops so everybody can bring back the materials that they’ve been holding onto since March when we closed, and we’re forgiving all fines.”

Anne Hage, director of the Huntington Woods Public Library, said the library is tentatively opening on June 29, with special accommodations for the vulnerable.

“We’re offering services for people over 60, people who are pregnant and those with pre-existing conditions to come in on Mondays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to noon, without other people in the building,” Hage said.

Many libraries may have to figure out new ways of connecting with their community because of the pandemic, and Karen White-Owens, director of the Oak Park Public Library, thinks a call service would be a good idea for library/customer relations.

“If we have a second wave of this, we can do wellness calls to check on our patrons, to make sure they’re okay and if there’s something we can get them or help them with.”

West Bloomfield Township Public Library's curbside pickup.
West Bloomfield Township Public Library’s curbside pick-up. Photo courtesy of Danny Schwartz

The Oak Park Public Library will be open with only curbside services starting Monday, June 22, with hours of operation between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Carrie Ralston, director of the Walled Lake City Library (WLCL), thinks the forced shift of focusing more on online business because of the pandemic could be a permanent one.

“It’s really interesting how we’ve adapted to online programming,” Ralston said. “We knew we couldn’t do it in person, so we would just share across all our social media. I feel like we’re going to continue doing that even after we’re able to have people back.”

WLCL will have curbside pick-up available Tuesday through Thursdays, starting June 16.

The Jewish News was not able to make contact with Southfield Public Library or Farmington Community Library staff members, but both posted updates on their websites.

The Southfield Public Library posted a Statement of Service on June 9th, saying: “We are glad that Governor Whitmer’s latest Executive Order states that libraries may reopen as of Monday, June 8, 2020; however, there is much work to be done before the Library can reopen safely for the public and the staff.”

“We are in the process of finalizing a phased reopening protocol that will include guidelines for appropriate distancing, usage of PPE, preparing the building and quarantining returned materials for 72 hours,” the statement continued.

Farmington Community Library (FCL) had a similar statement of service, also mentioning that returns will be accepted starting June 25 and that all items must be returned via the outdoor building chutes. Items currently checked out are not due back until July 31, so there is no rush to return materials. Contactless curbside pick-up for FCL will be available starting July 6.

For all library hours, guidelines and updates, visit each library’s respective website listed below.

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