Philomath library to offer ‘browse and go’ services beginning June 14

With several books in tow, a library patron on Thursday afternoon offered a big thank-you to the staff on her way out of the building for opening the front doors to those who love to browse the shelves and find the perfect title.

The community is starting to open back up again with folks hoping that the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rearview mirror. Philomath Community Library will officially reopen to the public at 10 a.m. Monday after doing an unpublicized test run over three days this week. Not all library programs will be back right away with services currently limited to what it’s calling “browse and go.”

“We’ve seen a lot of our regular patrons back in and we have been getting questions, particularly in the last month, like ‘what’s the date’?” said Mary Neville, extension supervisor. “We’ve been planning a reopening for quite some time.”

The library will be open during its regular hours of 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Visitors ages 5 and older are asked to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart from others.

Available services include picking up books that have been placed on hold, checking out books, browsing the shelves, help from staff and limited computer use. The library’s Wi-Fi will be available for use and the restrooms will be open.

“We’re still offering delivery services if you’re not ready to come in,” Neville said. “Delivery is still going strong.”

Services that are not yet available include use of meeting room space, in-person programs and events, and use of the library’s furniture.

“We did a soft open this week just for a dry run to make sure we were organized and ready for everything,” Neville said.

Interior of library
The Philomath Community Library will begin offering a “browse and go” option for patrons on June 14. The library’s delivery services will continue, however, for those not comfortable being in the building. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Asked what challenges the library may be facing with reopening, Neville said it’s just letting the community know that on-site services will be available.

“I think we’re getting the word out to people so they know we’re open again … and just making people comfortable with people coming in the building,” she said. “Our biggest goal is to make our patrons happy and comfortable and safe.”

The library does not have any set timetable for a return to full services.

“We’re basically following guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control),” Neville said. “We don’t have a date for when we’ll be starting in-person programming. That’s certainly something we’re preparing for.”

Other branches in the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library system are also reopening. The Alsea and Monroe libraries have been open since June 1 and the Corvallis library will open on June 21.

The library’s Summer at Your Library program kicked off June 1 with the theme, “Reading Colors Your World.” All ages are invited to participate, including adults. Participants will receive a free book bag, book and a paper log to track reading over the summer. Paper logs can be returned by July 10 to be entered into a prize drawing.

The library’s various virtual events will continue over the summer. For more information, read this month’s column by Julia Engel, Philomath Community Library reference librarian.


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