Whatcom County Library System buildings are now open to the public with modified services, limited hours, and entry requirements for in-person visits in accordance with Washington’s Safe Start plan. Library staff encourage community members to plan their visit by calling their local library or visiting wcls.org/info for branch-specific service details.
Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) buildings have been closed to the public since March 16, 2020, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Throughout the building closures, services continued online and via curbside pickup.
The building re-opening applies to WCLS’s 10 Whatcom county locations in Blaine, Deming, Everson, Ferndale, Kendall (North Fork), Lummi Island, Lynden, Point Roberts, Sudden Valley (South Whatcom), and Sumas.
Bellingham Public Library, which serves residents within the city limits of Bellingham, has consolidated staff and services for its three branches to operate a Monday-Saturday curbside pick-up program and 24/7 returns at the downtown Central library, which remains closed due to remodeling construction.
To ensure the health of community members and library staff, WCLS is following Washington State Safe Start guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Whatcom County Health Department. Current expectations for all visitors include:
- Everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times within WCLS facilities. Adult and child-sized masks are available for those who forget to bring them.
- Initially, in-person open hours will be limited at most branches from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday. Many branches will be scheduling appointments; call your local library branch or visit wcls.org/info to plan your visit.
- Because library buildings are limited to 25 percent occupancy, patrons are encouraged to keep their visits brief.
- Visitors must maintain a distance of 6 feet between themselves and others.
- People who are not feeling well or who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days should stay home.
- Anyone who does not comply with these requirements will be asked to leave the library building.
WCLS will continue to offer alternative, no-contact services such as curbside pickup of library materials, curated “to-go” bags of books, DVDs, board games and magazines, and digital content at wcls.org/digital-content.
Additional health and safety measures include:
- Staff have completed training and must pass a daily health self-assessment before reporting to work.
- Lounge seating has been removed. Seating is available for computer users.
- Computer keyboards, mice, and touchscreens will be sanitized between users.
- Staff will frequently sanitize high-touch areas. Hand sanitizer will be available.
- Public restrooms will be limited to one occupant or one household at a time.
- Children’s early learning toys have been removed.
- Public water fountains have been turned off.
- Out-of-town newspaper subscriptions have been temporarily suspended.
- If there is a COVID-19 exposure at a WCLS branch library, staff will close the facility and follow up with thorough disinfection before re-opening.
These operational modifications may change based on county health trends and guidance.
“We thank our patrons and staff for doing your part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” says WCLS Executive Director Christine Perkins. “Generally, the more everyone does to comply with these health and safety guidelines, the sooner we will be able to return to offering ‘normal’ library service.”
Updates will be posted to wcls.org and to the county library system’s social media channels.