By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A health crisis forced Yukon’s public library to change its service model, and that’s helped more patrons get what they need.
“We’ve been an in-person, face-to-face, relationship-based library,” said Sara Schieman, head librarian at the Mabel C. Fry Public Library. “We’ve had to change our service model, and it’s real exciting.
“We’re being creative to find ways to provide quality service to our patrons – pandemic or not.”
Since the library at 1200 Lakeshore reopened its doors in May, extra precaution has been taken due to COVID-19 virus-related concerns.
Library staff and patrons are now required to wear face masks when inside the building.
Even before Mayor Shelli Selby signed a new proclamation July 2 to mandate the face coverings inside all City of Yukon facilities, Schieman already required that of her employees.
“That’s what had been doing all long and we’d highly recommend anyone entering to wear masks and use hand sanitizer,” Schieman said.
Masks now must be worn by everyone and the library has an automatic hand-sanitizing station right inside the front door.
The Mabel C. Fry Public Library and other City of Yukon buildings were shut down in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the library was closed to the public, Schieman and other staff members started offering a “curbside pickup” service so patrons could check out materials.
“We had a great response,” she said. “We had a robust curbside business when we were closed, and we’re still offering the curbside service.”
Patrons can simply call the Yukon library (354-8232) or check the online catalog to reserve materials, then come and pick them up when they’re ready.
“We’ll bring them right out to them in front of the library, said Schieman, in her 11th year as Yukon’s librarian. “They don’t even have to get out of their vehicles.”
As businesses and government buildings started to reopen in May, the Mabel C. Fry Library offered limited hours initially.
Now, Yukon’s library is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Personnel at the Mabel C. Fry Public Library make sure all furnishings, equipment and materials is continually cleaned and sanitized.
Schieman, who has worked 21 years at the Yukon library, talked about the steps taken to help reduce the risk of virus spread.
“We’ve removed all upholstered furniture and closed the ‘Quiet Reading Room’,” she said. “We clean all furniture and surfaces with disinfectant.
“We have staff members on the floor all day cleaning, on a rotating basis.”
They clean and disinfect public access computers, log-on stations, tables, desks, chairs, and more – even the step used for the library’s step aerobics class.
“We’ve always wanted to err on the side of caution for our staff and customers,” Schieman noted.
Returns of books and audio-visual materials are now only accepted in the outside drop-off bin in front of the library.
“We’ve turned our large meeting room into a quarantine area where we clean every material that’s returned with disinfectant spray,” Yukon’s librarian explained. “We use alcohol to clean the inside of CDs and DVDs.
“We have a minimum three-day ‘quarantine and clean’ of any return material. We try to ensure everything is germ-free.”
Four of the eight public access computers are still in use.
In these times, this is important to Yukon residents without Internet access at their homes.
However, the children’s computers and iPads, puzzles, and Legos have been removed until further notice.
NEW FACEBOOK PAGE
The Mabel C. Fry Public Library has started its own Facebook page as a result of COVID.
Instead of having programs at the library, activities like children’s story time, baby story fun and a wide range of youth and adult classes are offered via Facebook Live.
“They can watch live or later – whatever time works for them,” Schieman said.
Summer reading programs for children and teens also have gone virtual this time around.
Also new, Yukon residents can apply online for library membership.
“We will do whatever we can do to help people get what they need,” Schieman said. “We think it’s real important that we’re open because people depend on us.”
For more information, call 354-8232 or visit the Mabel C. Fry Public Library online.