Back to the Library (but for how long?)

In August here in Toronto we began re-opening as a part of Stage 3. Our new cases were down to around 100 per day and one day we even got down to 33. In response to the positive trend the libraries went from only allowing us to pick up holds to returning to allowing use of computers, browsing for books and relative normalcy.

Last weekend I went to the library to pick up my own holds and to see first hand what it’s like. At its most basic it’s the same. Books are there, my holds were there, and patrons were enjoying browsing. On the other hand, the checkout desk was surrounded by caution tape preventing anyone from approaching except from the front where there was plexiglas. It looked somewhat like this:

Image via Toronto Public Library site)

And of course the obvious precautions were required:

In the end, I only spent long enough to pick up my holds, but it was so lovely to be back in the library – even with the extra requirements.

Since that visit, though, new case counts have been slowly edging upwards. Today we topped 400 new cases – about four times the count we had when the libraries first reopened. Public health authorities are saying this is primarily due to poor precautions taken and risky gatherings. In other words: People are tired of having to take the precautions and want to pretend that all is normal. Younger people are especially taking the attitude that if it isn’t going to affect them then why shouldn’t they get together?

I hope that this attitude changes soon and that people find the strength in themselves to look out for their fellow humans. Yes, we may well be only half way through this – or even less. However, the more we all follow these rules, the more of us will be around to see the other side of it. And of course another side effect of looking out for each other is that we get to keep access to things that make it feel more normal like restaurants – and libraries.

8 thoughts on “Back to the Library (but for how long?)

  1. This is pretty similar to how things have re-opened here — I’d say the small differences are things like signs asking people to touch things as little as possible, as well as ones suggesting you put your books into a time-out for a couple of days when you bring them home. Definitely fewer people *in* the library at any given moment, which is a huge difference from pre-plague.

    1. I noticed a similar reduced number of people. At the same time it was so nice to just be in there – like visiting a good friend for tea. Maybe that feeling is akin to the way the folks having ridiculous parties are also feeling. “Oh good, I’m in my happy place again.”

  2. My granddaughter was beyond thrilled when we went to the library yesterday. We had our masks on. Once in the door she showed me how to use a touchless hand sanitizer gadget. Then on to the books after noticing the little circles spaced 6 feet apart on the floor. After saying hi to the masked librarian behind plexiglass we checked out our books. They had been in 3 day quarantine since being returned. Then a quick hand sanitizing and home to read, read, read.

    1. I’m so glad you got to get back to the library. It’s been a long haul for you, yes? And I like that, like ours, it was mostly normal. I didn’t feel put out by any of the measures, just so, so, grateful that I could go back in. It was like I imagine returning to church was/will be for some.

      Our library also does a quarantine before circulation. Still we often get so many that we only need to really worry about the first one.

    1. Oh that’s an interesting way to manage it. Ours don’t require pre-booking but they limit total number of people. We’ll see what happens with the second wave, though. They may end up closed again.

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