The Red Deer Public Library board will likely discuss eliminating fees for the late return of library materials — a policy recently adopted by the Calgary and Edmonton public libraries, in recognition of the many families experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic.
The library’s chief executive officer, Shelley Ross, said late fees have never been charged on children’s library books in Red Deer.
As for adult books and other materials, “the board has discussed the issue within the last couple years and will likely discuss it again, especially in light of both Edmonton and Calgary doing away with fines, and many other large libraries across the country following suit,” Ross added.
Meanwhile, curbside pickups are continuing at the downtown branch, even though the Dawe and Timberlands branches have now reopened their doors to the public for limited hours — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Patrons should book ahead, instead of dropping in, so that the number of people within the libraries can be controlled. (Ross said 20 persons are allowed into the Dawe branch at one time, while 12 are allowed within Timberlands.)
“We are happy to have people come back to the library,” said Ross.
She knows many patrons have been wanting to pick their books in person, instead of online with curbside pickup.
“Some people aren’t sure which books they would like to read until they see what’s on the shelves,” Ross added.
The main downtown branch will remaining closed until work on its HVAC system is completed this fall.
Ross said the older building’s heating and air-conditioning system is getting an upgrade. Red Deer city council approved $350,000 toward this $500,000 project and Ross hopes to receive a community facilities enhancement grant to make up the balance.
She noted all returned library materials are being quarantined for at least 72 hours, so the virus can’t be spread to new borrowers.
While the restart of most library programs will depend on the extent of the viral spread this fall, a couple have continued online or with social distancing this summer: Reading Pals for young students and adult literacy.