The provincial go-ahead for Alberta libraries to reopen caught Red Deer’s Public Library officials off-guard.
CEO Shelley Ross expected libraries would be reopening later this month at the earliest, as part of the Stage 3 reopenings, “It was news to us as well…”
Although work still needs to be completed on the new air-conditioning/heating system at the downtown public library before it reopens to the public, she said preparations are being made to reopen the Dawe and Timberlands library branches shortly.
“We are excited to be able to welcome people back… but of course we want to ensure the safety of all concerned and have a positive relaunch experience,” Ross added.
Premier Jason Kenney announced Monday that libraries can reopen but are limited to 15 per cent of fire code capacity, not including staff.
The local fire department is assessing fire code capacities for the three branches in Red Deer.
Ross said knowing the 15 per cent capacity number will help determine if time limits are needed for visits and use of computers.
She is also waiting to see what the City of Red Deer decides, regarding the Dawe Centre library, since it’s connected to a recreation centre.
Ross anticipates the downtown branch will not reopen as quickly as Dawe and Timberlands branches.
“We will continue to offer curbside pickup… until we are able to admit the public again.”
A last piece of the new downtown HVAC system still needs to be installed. “We need to do air balancing work to make sure it’s all set up and running correctly,” said Ross.
When the library branches reopen, patrons will have to wear fabric masks over their noses and mouths for the entire time they are inside the branches. Individuals exempted by the city’s mask bylaw can continue to use curbside service.
Ross said AHS guidelines “continue to limit our ability to offer any kind of in person programming and performances so we will continue to offer online programs until there is new direction from AHS in that regard.”
She hopes to have more information about reopenings later this week.