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Clare libraries set to open from Monday

NONE of the Banner’s libraries have got to open to the public in 2021 yet, but the doors will be unlocked again from next Monday, albeit with restrictions reflecting yet another new normal.
“We’re due to open on the 10th in a browsing capacity only, so there won’t be people sitting around for long periods of time in the library,” said county librarian Helen Walsh this week.
“We have a metric with how many we can let in at a given time and a time limit as well, so it’ll really be in and out, as opposed to having students sitting down. Now, you can still access things like the photocopier and printer and things like that,” she assured.
She felt click and collect could have preceded this stage and is pleased it wasn’t introduced.
“We are delighted we are open, because we thought it would be click and collect, which was the way we were before. That would have meant there’d be appointments, someone could come and collect books at a prearranged time. We’ve gone one step beyond that to opening with browsing. We are happy they cut out that step, so people can come in.”
Over the last number of months, Clare County Library has been operating a home delivery service, which will now be tapered off.
Regarding the numbers that can access the libraries at one time, Ms Walsh said it depended on the size of the library.
“We haven’t it totally thought out yet, but obviously the bigger branches can take more in than the smaller ones, and we have part time branches also. The metric will be up on the window outside to let people now and we’ll probably be watching the numbers like they do in Dunnes and all the other stores.”
People won’t have to make appointments, as they will have to do at certain other public places.
“You can just come,” said Ms Walsh, “De Valera would be a busy branch in Ennis and at certain times you might be waiting in a queue outside, But you can come and queue or decide to come again later. We still won’t be open for late nights or Saturdays, it’ll be a standard day to see how it goes.”
While some additional work will be required, the library service has a better idea of what is required this time, Ms Walsh believes.
“This is Covid the second time around so we would have all the PPE in place, all the precautions, a lot of our desks are screened off, we would have already removed all the tables and chairs since the first time around. We never really got our full service back before we were locked down again.
“The big thing is we have to up our cleaning in the branch, that will have to happen more often. The last time we quarantined books before we gave them out again, there were 72 hours between books being dropped back and reissued, that takes up space in the library, having a quarantine before the books go back onto the shelves. The protocols have to be standard for each branch so we’re all doing the same.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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