The Haliburton County Public Library (HCPL) is planning for reopening but staff are uncertain how it will unfold.

The province has declared that libraries could begin offering curbside pickup May 19 as part of the first phase of its reopening plan. However, HCPL announced it is still developing the service and it is not yet ready to launch.

“Developing a curbside pickup service that is safe for staff and patrons is a large endeavour and we are working on a way to safely provide this service. However, there are many unknowns, and we will provide this service only once we can do it safely,” HCPL said in a Facebook post. “We miss all of you. But we also want to make sure that when we can increase our services, we are keeping our patrons, our staff, and our communities safe.”

The library board discussed the reopening process during its May 13 meeting and what will eventually be required, such as personal protective equipment, additional cleaning supplies and plexiglass shields. Library CEO Bessie Sullivan also said protocols will be needed for maintaining distance, computer usage, and possibly locking down books for some time after use.

However, she said there is not yet much provincial guidance on what libraries will have to do and uncertainty around what
additional funding there might be due to the situation. She also said there is uncertainty about how much decontamination books will require due to COVID-19.

“I still feel like we’re in a great abyss of non-information,” Sullivan said during the meeting.

Councillors on the board spoke to municipal willingness to help. Since local library buildings are owned by municipalities, capital expenses would have to go through them.

“What we are basically prepared to do is take our guidance from the library board and the County,” board member and Highlands East Coun. Cec Ryall said. “It’s going to take all of us to make this work.”

Warden Liz Danielsen said municipal CAOs are working on the issue and the municipalities would need to figure out if they would bear individual costs or if it would be shared with the County.

Board member and Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said it is important to collaborate and ensure costs can be accommodated in municipal budgets.

“We want to be careful that we don’t have a splintered approach,” Moffatt said.

Vice-chair Andrea Roberts thanked staff for their efforts in keeping libraries going with online services.

“Thank you for adapting, to try to keep the library services going in these strange and unusual times,” Roberts said.

The library board has scheduled a special meeting May 27 at 4 p.m. to discuss curbside delivery.

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