Cook Memorial Library

Cook Memorial Library, La Grande, is opening its doors Oct. 19 for grab-and-go borrowing.

LA GRANDE — Cook Memorial Library is taking gradual steps to reopen to the public with takeout-style book checkout and book drops opening June 1.

The La Grande public library is in Phase 2 of its reopening and on June 8 will enter Phase 3.

Under Phase 2, staff return to the library but the building remains closed to the public. The library announced it will reopen the book drops Monday.

When the library enters Phase 3, patrons will be able check out books, either online or by calling ahead, and pickup will be curbside. The library will continue to hold off on making users pay overdue fines.

Also during Phase 2, the library will limit the hours staff work and continue to hold classes and programs digitally. The staff is working on plans for accepting books and getting them back onto the shelves while maintaining proper sanitization. The library must maintain a 30-day supply of nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with additional supplies on order. Temperature checks and proper social distancing rules also are in effect.

Phase 3 will limit access to the building to employees only. The number of staff and their hours will return to pre-pandemic levels. However, many of the nondigital services will remain closed, including the coffee cart and volunteer services. The library, though, will expand its hot spot lending program and will allow computer use by appointment.

“The pandemic laid bare the digital divide that exists within our community with many calls for computer/internet access,” library director Kip Roberson said. “The library has made the decision to expand its hot spot lending program (10 additional hot spots are on order) and will explore the possibility of bundling a hot spot with a device for checkout; a community partnership may be required to identify those who would benefit most from such a service.”

The plan details Phases 4-6, with each being led by the rate of infection in the community and the risk to the public. Phase 4 is a grab-and-go model with the doors open but limited access. Phase 5 opens the building more with social distancing measures relaxed.

Roberson described Phase 6 as the library under its “new normal.” This final phase means the library is fully open to the public as it was before the pandemic. Protocols for disinfecting and sanitization are to be followed.

These last three phases do not have a timeline, and according to the plan, the library can go back to any previous phase if needed to protect public health.

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