APL Board Upholds Mask Mandate to Keep Branches Safe, Welcoming to Everyone

May 19, 2021 | Library News

Visitors and staff at Albany Public Library will continue to wear masks in the branches in an effort to keep APL safe and welcoming for everyone.

The library’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a motion to “maintain our mask requirements in all library branches at this time” at an emergency meeting on May 18. The board will review the mask mandate at every board meeting and adjust it as new coronavirus data emerges and pandemic trends are assessed.

“The trustees have voted to continue with our Pandemic Operations Plan, and continue to require masks in our libraries,” said Board President Matthew Finn. “Our goal is to make our spaces safe and welcoming to everyone in our city.” The May 18 board meeting video can be viewed on the APL YouTube channel.

The mask policy requires everyone (over the age of 2) visiting or working in the library to wear a mask at all times when there. Many of the library’s patrons are young children, families, people with medical vulnerabilities, or unvaccinated. The NYS Department of Health’s latest guidance “strongly recommends masks in indoor settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown.” For now, the library has chosen this more cautious option to ensure that APL is accessible, safe, and welcoming for all.

“The library will continue to monitor all federal, state, and local guidance, as well as observe how our neighbor organizations in Albany adjust to the changing COVID-19 protocols,” said APL Executive Director Scott C. Jarzombek. “This decision, like all of our policies around pandemic operations, is a temporary one that will be reviewed at each board meeting and adjusted whenever needed to reflect the current status of the pandemic in our community.”

The next board meeting is Tuesday, June 8, at 6 pm and will be live-streamed on YouTube.

While the mask mandate will continue at APL, the library is lifting capacity restrictions. There are no longer limits on the number of people allowed in each branch at one time, the length of visits, and required appointments for browsing. Patrons can now enjoy unlimited browsing and visits to the library. Appointments are still suggested for computer use and curbside pickup.

And in other good news, the library is poised to reopen the Washington Ave. Branch for in-building services on June 1. That same date, the other five open branches will add hours to bring APL very close to the pre-pandemic level of operation. It should be noted that the North Albany Branch is currently closed for renovation and is expected to open early in 2022.

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Stephanie Simon

Stephanie Simon is APL's public information officer, and manages the library's communications, public relations, and marketing efforts. No, she isn't a librarian, but feels as if she's among her people here at the library.