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Spokane Libraries Plan To Reopen Doors To Patrons

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One of the ripples from Washington moving back into Phase 2 of its coronavirus reopening plan is that libraries are allowed to reopen their doors to customers.

Many in eastern Washington have already done that. Spokane’s two library systems are getting there.Libraries have become an important place, not just for finding books, but also for free computer access for people who don’t have it at home. In that spirit, on Tuesday, the Spokane city library system will open its doors and allow a few people to come in at a time to use the library’s computers.

“It’s an exciting move because access to computers and internet access impacts our most vulnerable populations, so we’re excited to be able to add that first," says Spokane Public Library spokeswoman Amanda Donovan.

If all goes all well and nothing changes with the state’s phasing in the ensuing two weeks, she says the city libraries will then allow patrons back for browsing and other services at 25% capacity.

The Spokane County Library District will open its doors for limited browsing next Monday, March 8. That means 25% occupancy limits. Visits will be limited to a half hour, masks required and no food or drink.

“Our meeting rooms will continue to be closed as they are being used for materials that are quarantined in between checkouts and returns and programs will remain virtual at this time," said library district spokeswoman Jane Baker.

Baker says customers don’t need to make an appointment, but they may have to wait if their library is at its occupancy limit. She says the library’s curbside service, offered for most of the last year, has been popular, but thinks reopening will lead to increased service.

“People do miss coming in and browsing through the shelves on their own even though we do have virtual services that can assist with that type of thing," she said.

A few other libraries around eastern Washington are not yet open, including the Stevens County libraries, which are offering only curbside right now.