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Director Message, 3/18/2020

Baker County Public Library shifts down to drive-up service only in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Effective at 7pm Wednesday, March 18, Baker County Library District (BCLD) will close all library locations to public entry, but continue “take-out” library services through its drive-through window at the Baker City branch. These closures will remain in effect until at least April 13, or further notice, to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Drive-up Window service hours are to be determined and may be changed on sudden notice. Please call in advance prior to visit.

For the past week, library staff have been preparing to close upon either evidence of “community spread” in our extended region, or recommendation of closure from the Baker County Health Department. The latter came on Wednesday morning with a recommendation from the Baker County Health Department to Library Director Perry Stokes that the library close due to library visitation frequently exceeding the 25 person gathering limit in the course of a regular service day.

Library staff have done their best to remain open as long as possible, with rigorous disinfection measures to continue providing our needed community services. Libraries pride themselves on being there during critical times for our communities. We are often the only institutions to remain open during times of crisis. Service and stewardship to our communities are core to our profession.

In addition to the Baker County Health Department counsel, earlier this week the American Library Association stated they “strongly recommend…closing libraries to the public and only reopening when guidance from public health officials indicates the risk from COVID-19 has significantly subsided.”

With the shift down to drive-up service only, BCLD will be helping to break the chains of infection transmission and save lives. This period of increased isolation will help allow health authorities time for escalation of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Like restaurants, many libraries across the country have closed and offer only “curbside services”.  BCLD is fortunate to be able to safely continue limited library ‘take-out service’ through the drive-up window at the main branch library in Baker City.  

To make borrowed library materials as sanitary as possible, BCLD has also begun to use ultraviolet light radiation (UV-C) to sanitize the exterior surfaces of circulating items and “high-touch surfaces” such as countertops and computer keyboards. This is the same technology used by Baker City Public Works to treat the municipal water supply.

During the closure, library staff will continue to work behind the scenes. For efficient drive-up window service, readers are asked to reserve items in advance by using the online catalog at . Reservations and requests can also be placed by calling 541.523.6419.

 Patrons are also strongly encouraged to use BCLD’s online resources and services. Beginning March 23 residents of Baker County will be able to sign up through the library website for a digital eCard for access to downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, online databases, and more. Patrons are welcome to call or email the library for help installing the Libby app and accessing downloadable content.

BCLD also invites parents to try its newly launched online service to TumbleBookLibrary, a curated database of children’s e-books, with hundreds of titles for grades K-6. The resource includes unique animated, talking picture books, read-along chapter books, National Geographic videos, non-fiction books, playlists, as well as books in Spanish and French, and Graphic Novels – a student favorite!

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