As your libraries in Umatilla County navigate a safe reopening process, it is up to all of us to do what we can to keep our libraries accessible. A public library is a public entity and, as such, is required to follow the rules set down by the Oregon Health Authority, requiring masks, face coverings or face shields for indoor spaces open to the public. A public library, as an employer, has a responsibility to the health and safety of its staff members and its visitors.

To that end, the public library staff members in the Umatilla County Special Library District are wearing masks or other face coverings or shields. They are spending extra hours every day cleaning and disinfecting computer stations, counters, door handles, desks and other library surfaces. They also are asking their public visitors to wear masks or other face coverings or shields when they come to the library. It is one way we can look out for our friends and neighbors, and our wonderful library staff members.

The public libraries across Umatilla County are in various states of offering service, depending on their particular community situation. Some of the libraries are open with limits to the number of people in the building. Other libraries are open a limited number of hours with a limited number of people in the building.

Some are only offering curbside pickup — call the library and order the books you want and drive up to pick up. Some are offering appointments for the use of the public computers. Some will provide a bag of books collected around your favorite reading genre. Call your community library and find out its current status.

For programming, many have gone a virtual route. You and your children can “attend” a live storytime on Facebook and hear a fun story and learn how to do a craft. Many libraries are offering craft bags for people to pick up, and then you can watch how to create the craft online. Some libraries have story walks in their local parks or around town in local business windows. In some communities, you have an opportunity to search and find special creatures!

Many libraries have partnered with their local parks and recreation department to co-create programming. Some libraries are providing a storytime at the places where kids pick up summer lunches. Some are providing in-person programming at a park where they can keep everyone safely social distanced.

What you will find is that your local library staff members care deeply about their community members and want you all to be safe and healthy. They also want to stay healthy themselves so that they can continue to provide the valuable and needed library services to their communities. Let’s all do what we can to take care of each other.

The Umatilla County Special Library District (UCSLD) works in partnership with our libraries to advance and make available excellent library services, programs and continuing education opportunities for all. For more information, visit https://ucsld.org.

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Erin McCusker is the district director of the Umatilla County Special Library District. She writes a regular column, Libraries Provide – Countywide!, the last weekend of the month. Contact McCusker at 541-276-6449, director@ucsld.org or visit www.ucsld.org.

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