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Alliston public library moves into Stage 3 reopening, Tottenham and Beeton will remain in Stage 2

August 13, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Good news seems to be rare these days but bookworms in Alliston now have something to be excited about.

Their public library moved into Stage 3 of its reopening last week, which allows patrons to browse collections in-person and use public washrooms.

“We’re very excited to be able to offer a new level of service,” said Library CEO Graeme Peters.

“A lot of patrons have told us that browsing is what they really want to do, whether its families browsing for picture books or people trying to find out the titles they haven’t yet read from their favourite author.”

“People really miss that connection with the library collection,” he added.

The current Stage 3 reopening in Alliston is the final stage before remaining infection control measures are lifted by the government, said Peters.

“We’re as close as we can get to being back to ‘normal’ with all of the restrictions in place in terms of PPE, physical distancing and sanitation, etc…so we’re pretty happy about that,” he noted.

Tottenham and Beeton will remain in Stage 2 for now as the library is taking a cautious approach to reopening.

“Opening in Alliston first gives us an opportunity to asses how Stage 3 is working and if our protocols in place need adjusting, etc., before we move to Stage 3 system wide,” Peters reasoned.

He also noted that construction to the new Tottenham branch (139 Queen St. N) is on track and set for completion by the end of the month, with an expected occupancy under Stage 3 in September, at which time Beeton will follow suit.

“While its on schedule my experience with projects is that there’s always unforeseen delays, so just in case, I don’t want to be in a situation where we have staff brought back only for there to be no facility for them to work in, so we’re taking a slow approach for the two southern branches,” Peters explained.

He said during the peak of the pandemic, staffing for the New Tecumseth Public Libraries was reduced to “barebones” as they were all closed, but some employees were brought back when they started curbside pickup in late May.

“Now we’re bringing even more staff back for Stage 3, so it’s a lot more of a positive outlook to be having those phone calls with staff telling them that they’re coming back. Its a better place to be in, that’s for sure,” said Peters.

Meanwhile, accommodations are being made at the library for elderly and immune-compromised individuals.

The library will be exclusively open to people who are more susceptible to COVID-19 from 10–10:30 a.m., before opening up to the general public.

“It’s just to have a safe time for them to come in when the facility has been cleaned and disinfected,” Peters noted.

In terms of bookings, they are once again available at the Alliston branch, but with safety restrictions, and capacity limitations, not exceeding 50.

“We don’t anticipate going over that capacity, its when we have really popular programs that we go over that, but we’re re-evaluating what kind of programs we can offer, so we’re looking at online programs and even some outdoor programs,” Peters said.

The library started a Baby Time in the Park program last Wednesday, providing a safe way for parents to join together and help their baby develop language skills with rhymes, songs and fun stories, out in the sun.

“We’ve run a number of programs online whether its book clubs or things like that but Baby Time is the first in-person program that we’ve been able to offer for a long time,” said Peters.

“We’re kind of thinking outside of the box because we are limited.”

Looking ahead, Peters said himself and library staff are look forward to providing a new level of service to Alliston residents and working towards offering the same throughout the rest of New Tecumseth.

He told the Times library staff can’t wait to cut the ribbon and start working out of the new Tottenham branch as well.

“It’s something to look forward to and I think the community will be really happy with the new space,” Peters said.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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