Kent Co. library prepares to return from COVID closure

Kent County Public Library director Hilary Welliver and her staff have the facility cleaned up and safety protocols in place for when the facility gets the OK from the state to reopen. (Submitted photo/Kent County Public Library)

DOVER — A reopening date for the Kent County Public Library, which has been closed since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic, remains a question mark.

However, that hasn’t prevented library director Hilary Welliver and her staff for being as prepared as they can be for when the decision is made to reopen the facility, located at 497 S. Red Haven Lane.

Dr. Welliver has overseen an intensive cleaning of the library, and the county recently purchased ultraviolet equipment to sanitize returned materials and an audiovisual security system, as well as installed other public safety measures, in anticipation of the return of its patrons.

A UV air wand was bought to clean all hard surfaces, which the library said has proven to be a more efficient method than wiping down surfaces. Also, the county purchased a book sanitizer, which uses UV rays to clean books quickly. The sanitizer can clean six books in less than 60 seconds.

“The book-sanitizing equipment not only kills viruses on surfaces, it reduces the wait time in checking in materials, which can be done on the same day now, rather than after a 72-hour quarantine,” Dr. Welliver said. “It should also increase public confidence in using materials that have been used by other patrons.”

Kent County purchased a book sanitizer that uses ultraviolet rays to clean books quickly. The sanitizer can clean six books in less than 60 seconds. (Submitted photo/Kent County Public Library)

Dr. Welliver added that much of the library’s furniture has been rearranged or placed in storage to accommodate social distancing mandates. Floor markings indicate where the checkout line forms, with markings at 6-foot intervals. Plexiglas shields are now installed at the circulation desk.

“I am very proud of the work that the library staff accomplished while the community was in lockdown,” she said. “They implemented a new AV security system, cleaned miles of shelves, reorganized and weeded the collection and made a quick adaptation to online programming.”

New faces, as well as familiar ones, will greet customers when the Kent County Public Library eventually reopens. Newcomers include Olive Keegan-Kelly and Heidi Seldomridge, both out of New Castle County’s public library system, who are splitting the duties of mobile library outreach with library desk duties.

“Our children’s librarian took a director’s post at another library, and two staff retired,” said Dr. Welliver, “but we’ve hired several new people and welcome them to our team.”

When the Kent County Public Library reopens its doors, the schedule will be Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m.-noon, 2-3 p.m. and 4-5 p.m. The first hour of each day, 9-10 a.m., will be set aside for seniors and immunocompromised patrons.

Since the library will reopen at reduced capacity, visitors should call 744-1919 to arrange an appointment to ensure access. Curbside pickup will continue into October from 10 a.m. until 5:30 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays, by appointment.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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