Continuation of Service Plan to Guide Reopening is Approved

May 14, 2020 | Library News

The Albany Public Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved the Continuation of Service Plan, a document that guides the library through a phased approach to reopening buildings and resuming in-person services, at its March 12 virtual meeting.

“We have created a multi-step, five-phase plan that gradually reintroduces in-person services and slowly reopens the library buildings in a way that matches the capacity of the organization to each stage of the process,” said Scott C. Jarzombek, APL’s executive director. “As we resume normal operations, the health and well-being of our staff and our patrons are paramount. We are dedicated to doing our job as a library, and insist on doing it as responsibly as possible.”

The library’s Continuation of Service Plan was developed by administration based on information and guidance from the CDC, WHO, state, county, and Upper Hudson Library System (UHLS).

There is no start date for the plan. It will begin when New York State allows the Capital Region to reach phase 2 of the NYS Priority Industries for Re-Opening and upon approval by the APL Board of Trustees. Moving into each subsequent phase will be contingent on the library’s capability to expand services, and must be approved by the library board.

The APL Continuation of Service Plan contains these phases. The full plan can be viewed here. 

Phase 1A: Staff Return to Buildings | The buildings will remain closed, but staff will return in alternating shifts. Select buildings (those to be opened in the next phase) will be cleaned and sanitized. Staff will complete job-specific duties and tasks, and continue to deliver virtual services, programs, and materials.

Phase 1B: Alternative Delivery Options for Material | The library will begin to provide physical materials to patrons via curbside pickup at limited locations. Patrons will be able request material online or by phone, and book drops will reopen. UHLS will restart courier delivery service of physical materials among member libraries. The buildings will remain closed to patrons and most other facets of the previous phase will continue.

Phase 2A: Opening of Selected Locations with Patron In-Building Use by Appointment Only | Select library branches will open with reduced hours. In-person library transactions will be done by appointment only. There will be no in-building programs, and no use of meeting rooms or study rooms. Staff will begin limited outreach and coordinated projects with external partners. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 2B: Opening of Selected Locations with Strict Headcount | Select library branches will be open with a strict headcount for the number of patrons allowed inside. The branches will continue to have reduced hours and services. There will still be no programs, meeting rooms, or study rooms. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 3A: Opening of All Locations with Headcount | All library branches will be open with headcounts for the number of patrons allowed inside and limited hours. There will continue to be no programs, meeting rooms, or study rooms. There will be limits on certain services. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 3B: Regular Hours Resume with Headcount | All branches will resume regular operating hours. A strict headcount for the number of patrons allowed in each building will remain in place. There will still be no programs, meeting rooms, or study rooms, along with limits on certain services. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 4A: Unrestricted Regular Hours | Patrons will be allowed into all buildings without a headcount. The branches will continue regular hours. There will still be limits on certain services, along with no programs, meeting rooms, and study rooms. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 4B: Easing Patron Restrictions | Programming begins in the branches on a limited basis with hard caps for attendance and the number of programs offered at each location. Those programs will be open to Albany residents only. Meeting rooms will open with a limit of no more than 10 people per room. Study rooms will remain closed, and there will be limits on certain services. Most other facets of the previous phase will remain in place.

Phase 5: New Normal Operations | Library programming will expand with limits on the number of attendees and number of programs. Meeting rooms will continue with limits on the number of people in the meeting. Study rooms will be open by appointment. Use of computers and equipment will require patrons to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The library will incorporate self-checkout stations. Virtual services, programs, and materials will continue for patrons who cannot or choose not to visit branches in person. Expanded safety and cleaning protocols will continue.

“Reopening the library to patrons is not as simple as flipping a switch. We need to slowly adjust various dials turning them up, and down if necessary, based on data and expertise. Clear protocols and procedures are necessary for staff to implement and monitor during every phase of the plan,” Jarzombek said. “Our goal, as always, is to provide information and access to our community in a safe, appropriate, and responsible manner.”

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.