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Director message, 7/19/20

Baker County Public Library set to re-reopen Monday, July 20

I'm pleased to announce that Baker County Library District will re-reopen its buildings again for Limited Services beginning Monday, July 20. 

Rules under the Limited Access Services (LAS) phase include:

  • Face covering required while indoors, unless under the age of 12 and supervised by a masked parent, guardian, or caregiver
  • Children under age 12 must be accompanied by responsible caregiver age 16+
  • Persons unable to wear a mask will be provided outdoor drive-up/curbside service
  • Visitor occupancy limited is to 8
  • Visitation time is limited (timed session passes issued at front desk upon entry.)
  • Public restrooms, Meeting Rooms, and drinking fountains are closed
  • Seating is restricted
  • No food or drink

Following the state lockdown phase, the district first re-opened buildings for appointment only visitation on June 1 for a brief two week period. It began to ease restrictions on June 15, but closed again on June 17 in response to the rapid increase of cases in Union and Malheur counties. Now with the implementation of a statewide mask mandate, improvement to case rates in neighboring counties, and various new precautionary measures implemented based on growing evidence of aerosol transmission of the novel coronavirus, library staff are prepared to welcome patrons back once more.

This move is not without trepidation. Our employees are highly aware that this is not just an "Enter at your own risk" situation; it’s an "Enter at our collective risk" situation. COVID-19 is present in our community and is particularly life-threatening to those who have underlying conditions that make them especially vulnerable to severe illness from this virus. Some of our staff and many of our library users are in that risk category.

Everyone is feeling the fatigue from this unforeseen state of affairs. But we also know our community needs as much service as we can provide within the parameters allowed. We cannot be locked down indefinitely, but we cannot afford to diminish our vigilance in any way whatsoever.  At a recent virtual meeting, library staff voted (nearly unanimously) in favor of re-opening with our system of safety measures in place. We have researched and collected knowledge about the risks associated with this viral transmission and built up our defense supplies and methods. So, we are currently as prepared as we can be to serve our communities in the safest, most responsible ways possible. Since masks are only partially effective for source control, it is absolutely imperative that we strictly regulate the number of visitors indoors and that everyone cooperates. This means  wearing masks properly over nose, mouth and chin, sanitizing their hands upon entry, staying at least 6 feet from others, and keeping visits as brief as possible.

The most important message I’d like to relay to the communities we serve is that indoor public spaces are considered the greatest risk for transmission right now. Coming into the library should be a last resort when seeking out our services. It’s best if we are able to serve folks through our drive-up window or curbside services.

We’re working on upgrading the ventilation systems in all of our facilities, but outdoors will continue to be the safer environment. Browsing and reserving materials in advance can be done with our online catalog.  We also have downloadable content with our Library2Go service, which we’re increasing our investment in to help decrease wait times for our patrons.

For everyone’s safety, the library has details of note for people who want to use the facility:

Follow health guidelines

Library users are asked to please abide by public health guidelines. Stay home if you’re sick, use face coverings properly, and sanitize your hands frequently. Hand sanitizer will be available at the sanitization station near the entrance. Hand sanitization is required on entry to reduce risk of transmitting the virus when handling any library materials, especially materials that cannot be effectively sanitized without quarantine such as newspapers and magazines.

Per the July 1 state mandate, a proper face mask that covers one’s nose and mouth is required to be indoors. A face shield is also acceptable. Library staff will be wearing face coverings and face shields at all points of service.  Those who are unable to wear face coverings or choose not to will be routed outdoors to the drive-up window at the Baker City branch and curbside service at the community branches.

More information from the Central Oregon Emergency Information Network (COEIN) will be available at the library. The library is not collecting visitor information for contact tracing.

Do distance and don’t hang out. Visit briefly with a task purpose.

Several changes have been made to the Baker City branch building in order to encourage 6-foot physical distancing. Most of the lounge seating and computer workstations in the main branch of the Library will continue to be closed, and the number of visitors will be limited to 8.  Visitors in groups should be from the same household. 

Before entering, please observe our newly installed monitor at the front entrance which displays a live count of current building occupancy and whether persons can enter. Inside the library, additional signage is posted to indicate the capacity for each room space.   If local conditions deteriorate, a cap may also be set on total daily visitation.

Collection stacks are all open for short-term browsing of the collections. The free WiFi at all of our Baker County library locations has always been and will continue to be available.  The library’s Drive-Up Window off of Madison Street will continue to be available for pickup of materials previously placed on hold. 

No food or drink

No food or drink will be allowed to be consumed in the building.

Limited computer use

Due to demand and limited devices, computer use will be limited to 60 minutes a day. Sets of keyboard, mouse and other peripheral devices will need to be checked out from the service desk prior to use and returned when the session is finished so everything can be sanitized.

A laptop computer is available for use at a cart outside the library for patrons unable to wear a mask. Please call ahead to reserve this workstation. There is also a computer dedicated to applying for government benefits (e.g. unemployment), tax filing, Census participation, or other civil services.

Meeting Room closed

The Riverside Meeting Room  is closed.  Study Rooms with computer workstations are available during library open hours for up to two people, for 60 min., from the same household.

Low risk from library materials

Library materials are considered very low risk for coronavirus transmission.  All returned items are sanitized with a combination of ultraviolet germicidal light (UV-C) plus a quarantine period of 7 days before getting checked in. The quarantine period alone allows ample time for any existing virus hazard on the inside of an item to fade out.  New studies indicate that a quarantine period of  3 days is sufficient for books. Five days of quarantine is a recommended best practice for hard plastic materials like DVDs.

Questions may be directed to the library at 541-523-6419 or

Perry Stokes, Library Director

Baker County Library District