Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) buildings will reopen to the public Monday, March 1, 2021. The county libraries will have modified services, limited hours, and entry requirements for in-person visits in accordance with Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington plan. Curbside pickup of library materials will continue. Visit wcls.org/info or call a county library for branch-specific service details.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WCLS buildings initially closed to the public March 16, 2020, and then reopened Oct. 26, 2020, with modified services and entry requirements. Buildings closed again Nov. 23, 2020, in response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in Whatcom County and to further reduce the spread of transmission. Throughout the building closures, library services continued online and via curbside pickup.
To ensure the health of community members and library staff, the following rules are in place at all county library buildings:
- Everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times within WCLS facilities. This includes people who have received the COVID-19 vaccination. Adult and child-sized masks are available for those who forget to bring them.
- To ensure adequate physical distancing, staff are unable to provide personalized, hands-on assistance at computer stations.
- Initially, in-person open hours will be limited at most branches from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday. 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 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.
- Public internet computer keyboards, mice and touchscreens will be sanitized between users.
- Staff will routinely 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.
These operational modifications may change based on county health trends and guidance. WCLS is following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Whatcom County Health Department.
The building reopening applies to WCLS’s 10 county locations:
- Kendall (North Fork)
- Lummi Island
- Point Roberts
- Sudden Valley (South Whatcom)
- Sumas. Library Express locations at the Point Roberts Library
- 5205 Northwest Drive in Bellingham are open as usual.
- The Bookmobile will continue its normal schedule with walk-up service at Glenhaven (Mondays, 3-7 p.m.), Birch Bay (Wednesdays, 3-7 p.m.), Wickersham (Thursdays, 3-5 p.m.) and Lake Samish (Thursdays, 5:30-7 p.m.).
Bellingham Public Library (BPL), a separate library system that serves residents within the city limits of Bellingham, will not reopen buildings at this time. BPL has consolidated staff and services for its three branches to operate a Monday-Saturday curbside pick-up program at the downtown Central library, which is under remodeling construction. BPL is accepting returns 24/7 at the Central, Fairhaven and Barkley branches.
Updates regarding county library services will be posted to wcls.org and to the county library system’s social media channels.