Williston Community Library begins phased re-opening

 73141605_508828196388755_7523573115247394816_nWILLISTON, N.D. – Beginning today, Monday, January 4, 2021, the Williston Community Library is re-opening its doors for the following select in-person library services:

  • Computer use
  • Printing, copying, scanning, and faxing
  • Library card sign-up
  • Reference and reader advisory services

Curbside pickup and all online and virtual programs will continue.

“The approach regarding re-opening is based on multiple factors,” explained Williston Community Library Director, Andrea Placher. “The Library Board of Directors and I keep track of city, county and state guidelines but we also use results from the REALM Project to inform our decisions and policies.”

Conducted by OCLC, a global library cooperative, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle, a global research and development organization, the REALM Project (REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) produces science-based information about how materials can be handled to mitigate COVID-19 exposure to staff and visitors of libraries, archives, and museums.

“Our number one goal has always been to try and keep our staff and patrons as safe and healthy as possible,” emphasized Placher. “We work in planned, organized phases to help make transitions easier for staff and patrons.”

The COVID-19 Guidelines approved by the Library Board of Directors remain in place and include mandatory face coverings for staff and patrons, maintaining social distance, and limiting daily visitor time inside the library to one hour.

The following cleaning and sanitizing efforts are also in place:

  • Staff wash hands after entering the building and patrons are asked to sanitize hands before entering.
  • Computer stations are sanitized after every patron.
  • Bathrooms, door handles, and frequently used surfaces are sanitized often during the day.
  • Staff work areas are sanitized daily.
  • Library materials are returned through the 24-hour book drop and quarantined for 7 days.
  • Sanitizer is available throughout the building.
  • All seating in common areas has been removed.

“If our community COVID numbers continue decreasing, we hope to allow browsing again in later January,” stated Placher.

While COVID-19 has drastically changed the traditional library landscape, the Williston Community Library has taken a creative approach to supplementing popular in-person programming.

“Programs drastically changed with no in-person meetings, but this propelled us into a whole new way of thinking,” explained Placher. “Our Summer Reading Program was ‘in the bag,’ literally, and we distributed 500+ bagged kits with everything needed to execute an at-home version of summer reading via curbside pickup.”

Inspired and fueled by this initial program’s success, Placher and her staff created more take-home kits for patrons of all ages.

“These kits have been so popular among patrons who cannot always make it into the library for programs that we will continue to provide limited amounts moving forward into our new normal,” added Placher. “Our most popular program this year, aside from summer reading, was definitely our 12 Days of Holidays, which ‘sold out’ in 45 minutes.”

And while the library was quieter than normal this year, behind the scenes, significant maintenance work was able to take place.

Physical improvements made over 2020 include:

  • New carpeting
  • New interior lighting in children’s area and front lobby
  • Metal coping installed on entire parapet of roof
  • New paint for library’s interior, front desk, and carts
  • Renovated study cubicles with new desks and lighting

Other improvements include expanded online services (e.g. Tumblebooks), the creation of a library YouTube page, and community involvement through the new Downtown Storywalk and distributing 1,900 children books between the Halloween Scavenger Hunt and Holiday Lights Drive.

"Moving forward, we are optimistic about our library’s future and all the services we have to offer,” emphasized Placher. “Starting in mid-January we will begin circulating S.T.E.A.M. kits (science, technology, engineering, art and math) that are sure to be a hit. We are excited to see our patrons again and for them to see all the hard work we have put into the library this last year!"

For more information on this story, please contact Library Director, Andrea Placher, at 701.774.8805 or andreap@ci.williston.nd.us.

To learn more about the REALM Project, please visit www.oclc.org/realm.

For more information on the Williston Community Library and the COVID-19 Guidelines, please visit www.willistonndlibrary.com. Follow the Williston Community Library on Facebook and Instagram (@willistoncommunitylibrary), and YouTube (@Williston Community Library – Williston, ND).

Follow the City of Williston on Facebook (@cityofwilliston), Instagram (@cityofwilliston), and LinkedIn.

For more information, please visit www.cityofwilliston.com, call 701.577.8100, or stop by 22 East Broadway, Williston, ND.