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Director Message, 3/27/2020

Starting Sunday, March 29, Baker County Library District will begin a two week pause of all physical checkouts.

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Dear Baker County community,

Until at least April 13, Drive-Up Window service will be suspended and we are encouraging patrons to use our digital resources only such as downloadable eBooks and audiobooks from Library2Go. All due dates will be extended, holds will be frozen, and late fines forgiven during this period. If you need help getting started with Library2Go, library staff will be available Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm, by phone (541-523-6419) or email (

For the past four weeks, I’ve been closely following the trajectory of coronavirus spread in our nation and northwest region in particular. Now is the time for BCLD to pause all physical services because:

  • COVID-19 case counts are growing exponentially in nearby Oregon and Idaho counties.
  • Health officials project that current case counts represent only 25% of actual infections.
  • Some people are making special trips from case-positive areas where their home library is fully closed over to Baker for our library take-out service, which increases risk for everyone.
  • The library is short on PPE and chemical disinfectants for safe handling of items, including still awaiting delivery of more UV-C light disinfection units to decontaminate incoming items in a way that keeps library staff and materials safe.
  • in order to make good tactical decisions, we need reliable data about confirmed cases.Currently, the number of confirmed cases doesn’t give an accurate picture since health officials haven't had sufficient capacity for reconnaissance and tracking due to an undersupply of diagnostic test kits.
  • Our health care systems need time to ramp up with resources, workforce, and case investigation intelligence sufficient to meet the coming siege.
  • Since research has shown asymptomatic carriers may still transmit Coronavirus, the safest course of action for our community right now is for library staff to act as if we’re already infected.
  • Yesterday, Oregon Health Authority announced that projections indicate “We are in a critical time for flattening the curve” of new infections.
  • How well we distance ourselves from others in the coming days, could mean the difference of life or death for some people in our community.

Therefore, BCLD is directing its staff to help protect our health care workers, community, and each other by observing the state “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order from Governor Brown.

This additional pullback is part of the library’s tactical withdrawal strategy to maintain safety while providing limited services. We know this is an additional hardship for many, but the health and well-being of our staff and community must be our top priority. Thankfully, our geography has allowed a bit of a time buffer to delay this interruption. That buffer has dwindled with confirmed cases surging in nearby areas. The virus is at our gates and surging. With lives at stake we cannot wait for evidence it is on top of us before taking action, especially given the reported test shortage and data deficiencies. We need to be aggressively proactive now and stay well ahead of the spread.

It is important to remember that we are fortunate to live in a time in which digital resources enable us to stay connected and continue to share materials despite isolation at home. This not only safeguards physical health, but bolsters mental health, as well.

Besides our digital collection, we’re working on alternative ways to get books out, such as restocking Little Free Libraries around town.  Now may be a great time to build one for your neighborhood! See: .

We appreciate everyone's understanding and cooperation and look forward to rolling service back out when appropriate. Nothing like a virus to demonstrate the great Lakota adage, "We are all related".


Perry Stokes | Library Director
Baker County Library District