In the event of a pandemic, the library may be required to operate on limited staffing or take unique measures to help slow the spread of the illness, including service restrictions, limited hours of the operation, or possible closures by order of local public health officials. Recovery from a pandemic may be slow, as compared to a natural disaster or other physical crises. It is important to ensure that core business activities of the library can be maintained for several weeks or more with limited staff and reduced hours due to a pandemic.
Pandemic Plan: A pandemic plan differs from a general emergency preparedness policy or procedure. With an emergency preparedness policy, there is an assumption that staff will return to the building or begin rebuilding, almost immediately after the event crisis (such as after a fire or storm, or if there is a utility shortage). Recovery from a pandemic may be slow and limited staff, services, and hours may be necessary for an extended period.
Pandemic: A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease (World Health Organization www.who.int).
Appropriate Staffing Level: For the purposes of this policy, “Appropriate Staffing Level” refers to the minimum number of qualified staff necessary to provide service safely and efficiently as determined by the Library Director or their designee. Two staff members are required to be in the library building in order for it to open to the public in any capacity.
Public Health Mandate: The Hackettstown Public Library will close due to the pandemic in the event of a mandate order or recommendation for closure issued by public health or government officials on the local, county, or state level. All transactions will be fine-free until further notice.
Discretionary Service-Level Changes
At the discretion of the Library Director and Board of Trustees, the Library may close, reduce its operating hours, or limit service temporarily in the event that there is not sufficient staff to maintain appropriate staffing levels. The Director can update procedures as needed during a pandemic. In the event of closure or reduction in operating hours, the Library Director will maintain communication with staff, Library Board of Trustees, and patrons.
Staffing level for a temporary period of time is defined as two healthy employees available to be present at the library during all open hours. An inability to maintain this temporary minimal level will result in reduced hours or closing of the library.
In providing service safely and efficiently, the following actions may be taken at the discretion of the Library Director or designee:
– Increased health/safety measures for staff (wearing gloves, wiping down work areas, etc.)
– Social distance practices in public areas
– Reduction of staffing
– Cancellation of all programs, special events, and meeting room reservations
– Reallocation of employee responsibilities and shift/schedule changes to provide coverage during open hours
– Closure of the library
If the Library is open, employees are expected to report to work on time as scheduled, excluding any excused absences following the established Personnel Policy, or due to sickness of the pandemic itself. In the event of closure, employees shall be compensated for their regularly scheduled hours. If the library is closed or hours reduced, healthy employees may be assigned work-at-home tasks to be completed in their compensated hours. When appropriate, work tools (laptops, supplies, etc.) can be lent to employees by the Library Director for work-at-home assignments.
In the event of closure necessitated by pandemic, effective communication about any reduction in services or open hours must be announced in a timely manner. Library staff should follow normal procedures used for any unexpected closure/program cancellation, which includes posting on the library website, social media, and local media.
Prioritization of Services
Priority will be given to the following essential services:
– Information services for the public – in the event of a library closure, conducted via chat, phone, or email
– Accounts Payable
– Facility Maintenance
In the case of reduced staffing or reduced hours of operation, the Library Director or designee will prioritize service-related tasks and assign the daily work plan to staff.
Patron Code of Conduct During a Pandemic
The following items are added to the Library Code to Conduct as an addendum and shall continue to the end of 2020 unless otherwise extended or suspended by the Board of Trustees.
- Library patrons, age two and older, must wear a face covering at all times while in the buildings.
- For those unable to, or unwilling to, wear a face covering, reasonable accommodations will include curbside pickup of library materials and reference and information services via phone or email.
- Patrons that are sick, have a fever, or are actively coughing or sneezing shall not enter library buildings, even if they are wearing a face covering.
- All visitors will practice social distancing at all times, ensuring a minimum of six feet distance to all others.
- While in the library building, patrons shall practice good hygiene by properly washing hands or using hand sanitizer.
- The library will observe the following occupancy limit: 10 patrons, plus staff. As state mandates allow larger percentages of people in the building, library staff will adjust limits accordingly.
- Minors (those under age 16) must be accompanied by, and under the direct supervision of, their own parent or legal guardian at all times.
- Browsing in the Children’s Room will be available by appointment.
- Patron use of library computers shall be:
- Limited to 45 minutes per day by appointment
- Limited to essential business or research use only. No gaming permitted.
- Patrons shall return all borrowed materials via the external book drops.
- No group or class visits are permitted. The library’s meeting room is not available for public use.
- For questions about the Code of Conduct or restrictions, please contact the Library Director at 908-852-4936.