After hearing some strong concerns coming from the Manchester City Council and the public, the Manchester Public Library is easing several reopening restrictions it had in place and will be unlocking its doors this week.
According to Kristy Folsom, library director, the library board voted May 13 to ditch its previous reopening plan, which relied on weekly COVID-19 data on Delaware County compiled by the CDC.
“The board voted that on Tuesday, May 18, we’ll open the door so that the public is able to come and browse and pick out their own books,” Folsom said, adding these activities can be done during all hours of library operation.
Other activities, such as computer usage, will also no longer require an appointment.
At a previous meeting of the Manchester City Council, Folsom presented the library board’s reopening plan, which highlighted what levels of service the library would be offering based on a set of measurable benchmarks primarily based on data regarding the level of COVID-19 community transmission in Delaware County.
The benchmarks were color-coded, with red representing a high level of transmission, orange substantial, yellow moderate and blue low.
Folsom said that while this is no longer the road-map the board has chosen to use, the new reopening plan does mirror the yellow plan.
For the period of May 7 to May 13, which is the most recent data available, the CDC still has Delaware County labeled orange, or a substantial level of community transmission.
The CDC also made a surprise announcement last week stating fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, a stark about-face from its messaging in previous weeks.
Folsom, who was interviewed before the CDC’s announcements on masks was made, said the library board planned to continue imposing a mask mandate.
With information and guidelines seeming to change more quickly in the past several weeks, Folsom said there are still details the board needs to work through and described the reopening situation as being fluid.
Library staff does intend to continue providing pick-up services for those who do not yet feel comfortable enough to come to the library in-person, but she also said those details are still being worked out.
“If a patron calls for materials and would just like to pick them up by door, we should be able to leave them just inside the building on a small table by the door, but we’re still figuring that out,” Folsom said.
Folsom said staff will provide a summer reading program, but those exact details are still being worked out as well.
“We don’t have everything figured out for the summer reading program, but we’re definitely having one,” she said, adding that in-person programing hosted inside the library is still something that needs to be determined.