Photo of Kent Library courtesy Shiels Obletz Johnsen, Inc.

Effective Monday, June 8, the King County Library System (KCLS) will advance to Phase 1.5 in its multiphase plan to reopen libraries after a three-month closure to help curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Actual reopening dates for specific branches – including in Kent – have not yet been announced, but will likely happen when we reach Phase 3.

KCLS’ decision follows Washington State Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman’s approval of King County’s request to move into a modified ‘Phase 1.5’ of the state’s Safe Start plan.

KCLS says it is taking a phased approach to allow staff and the public back into buildings and branches in a deliberate and planned way, based on data-driven guidance for materials handling, cleaning and physical distancing. Phase (and sub-phase) progressions depend on current public health and safety guidelines, and are subject to change.

“We are delighted to move into the next phase, which brings us one step closer to offering Curbside To Go services in Phase 2,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “We know our patrons have missed having access to our full collection, and we look forward to the day we can offer physical materials again.”

KCLS’ Path to Reopening is outlined as follows:

PHASE 1: All libraries are still closed to the public; no book returns are allowed.

    • KCLS continues to provide online services, programs and resources, such as:
      • Digital collections.
      • Virtual programming.
      • Ask KCLS by phone, email and chat.

PHASE 1.5 (CURRENT – as of June 8, 2020): All libraries remain closed to the public.

    • Some staff are allowed in buildings with physical distancing and health protocols in place.
    • Select book returns gradually open with strict guidelines.

PHASE 2: All libraries remain closed to the public.

    • Staff are allowed in buildings with physical distancing and health protocols in place.
    • Patrons may place and pick up holds and materials with Curbside To Go services at select locations, in a multiphase rollout. Modifications are likely.
    • KCLS offers limited mobile outreach delivery with Library2Go.

PHASE 3: Some or all libraries are open to the public with modified operations

    • Physical distancing and health protocols remain in place.
    • Libraries have limited hours.
    • Services and access to technology will be determined and may vary by location.
    • Curbside To Go and Library2Go mobile outreach delivery continues to rollout.
    • No large public gatherings or events are allowed inside libraries.
    • Meeting and study rooms remain closed.

PHASE 4: All libraries are open to the public; full-service operations resume

    • KCLS returns to standard business practices while continuing to offer services in new ways learned during the pandemic.
    • Meeting and study rooms are open pending Administration approval.
    • Large public gatherings are allowed inside libraries.

KCLS encourages patrons to continue to take advantage of online services and resources while KCLS’ physical buildings remain closed. Residents in the KCLS service area (in King County, outside the city of Seattle) can sign up instantly for a digital eCard to access the library online. For those who don’t have computer or Internet access, contact Ask KCLS by phone at 425.462.9600 or 800.462.9600. Staff are ready to answer questions, and direct residents to helpful resources and information.

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Scott Schaefer

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