Following seven months of closure with services mostly limited to online, community members once again will be able to browse books on the shelves of the Orcutt Branch Library when it reopens Monday.
The Orcutt branch will be the first of the five Santa Maria Public Library locations to reopen, with the library's new mobile library service, the Bookmobile, also starting service next week.
The Orcutt branch will be open for grab-and-go services, with visitors required to wear masks, maintain social distancing and limit their visit to 20 minutes, library officials said.
"It'll be grab and go, so they'll be able to browse and then have to head out after 20 minutes," said librarian Joanne Britton. "We're just excited to be able to get open again. It's gonna be great to let people back in."
While reopening plans were approved by the city for the Orcutt branch, the Santa Maria main library and its branches in Guadalupe, Los Alamos and Cuyama will remain closed except for curbside pickup service for the time being, city spokesman Mark van de Kamp said.
Per state guidelines for the red tier, Santa Barbara County's current reopening phase, libraries are permitted to operate indoors at 50% capacity. However, Britton said the Orcutt branch will start out at 25%, allowing 12 people inside at a time.
For the Bookmobile, which brings mobile library services to underserved areas of Santa Maria, one person will be allowed inside at a time for a 10-minute period, Britton said.
Sneeze guards also have been installed at both sites to separate visitors from library staff, and regular sanitation of high-touch surfaces such as computers will be in place.
Although libraries in Santa Barbara County were permitted to reopen at limited capacity in late August, frequently-changing COVID-19 guidelines and delays on safety supplies such as sneeze guards delayed the process, van de Kamp said.
Across the five branch locations, eight of the 22 limited-service library staff who were furloughed in March have been brought back on city payroll to staff services like the curbside pickup, according to van de Kamp.
The Orcutt Branch Library is located at 175 S. Broadway and will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, starting next week.
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