Local libraries were set to open their doors again in November just as Gov. Jay Inslee issued a new shutdown order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We were so incredibly close,” said Tak Kendrick, spokesman for Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries. “We had to very quickly tap the brakes, but we are super excited to start when the governor is ready.”
That won’t be for a while. Inslee earlier this week extended the current set of restrictions — which also close restaurants’ dining rooms, gyms, bowling centers, movie theaters and museums — until Jan. 4. When library branches do reopen, they won’t immediately return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Visitors won’t be able to browse the shelves, but they will be able to enter the library to ask questions and pick up books on hold.
Meantime, local residents can continue checking out books and other materials by placing them on hold and retrieving them curbside. Appointments are no longer required; just pull into a designated parking spot and call the number on the sign, or use the “pick up now” button in the FVRLibraries app.
Pat Reiter, 84, recently used curbside pickup to check out a copy of Anne Tyler’s “Clock Dance” from the Cascade Park branch.
“It’s so easy to do,” she said. “I certainly will do it again.”
Since the library system lost storage capacity when its operations center on East Mill Plain Boulevard flooded in October, it’s encouraging people to check out materials.
“We have a lot of books on the shelves. People have been returning materials faster than checking out,” Kendrick said.
The library offers a variety of services, even while doors are closed:
• You can access Wi-Fi outside library buildings or check out a hot spot to access the internet at home.
• If you don’t have a printer, you can request printouts, which you can then pick up curbside or have mailed to you.
• The library continues to offer a variety of events, including groups for crafting enthusiasts and Dungeons & Dragons players, just online instead of in-person.