The Richmond Free Library has closed effective 6 pm, Friday, March 13 to protect our community. The library has many patrons (and staff) over the age of 60. It is also an after-school meeting and pick-up location with high traffic in the afternoons. We are not in a position to disinfect the library, and we cannot keep up with wiping “high touch” areas as new patrons come in and out of the library. We do not have a “purpose built” building and the space we have is not conducive to social distancing. Our library is a combination of several small spaces that encourage interaction (which libraries love!) and one large meeting area for programs. Our programs were discontinued on Monday, but there is no way people can maintain adequate distance in other areas. Nor can staff maintain safe distances at our service desks.
I’m also seeing conflicting information in medical literature on the persistence of the COVID-19 virus on surfaces. Several reputable and peer-reviewed journals have indicated the virus survives up to 9 days in ideal conditions, and most likely dies off after 5 days in other conditions. This is certainly contradictory to other sources, and points out that there is yet a good consensus on this factor. In reality, there is still much to learn about COVID-19 and it’s transmission. The CDC is putting out its best guess. What we do know is that while the contagion seems to moving slowly, it will grow at an exponential rate unless actions are taken to slow it.
In keeping the library open, it signals the public that it’s a safe place to convene. It isn’t. There are only five confirmed cases in Vermont. That doesn’t seem like a threat, but it’s only because there is limited resources for testing and monitoring. Real numbers of infection are not available. The virus is spreading, and I think everyone should be contributing to the halt of the disease.
In the meantime, our communities need to quickly develop safety nets of all kinds for our residents.
The Library will be implementing some means of book delivery and pick up next week and discontinuing due dates. Our online resources are limited, but we will encourage their use as well. Any other ideas on service that is not in-person are welcome. Some staff will be continuing to work at the library, but we will not be admitting patrons until further notice.
Please feel free to call or email us.
Rebecca Mueller, Dir.