Jamestown library plans reductions in COVID restrictions

Alfred Dickey Public Library considers changes in COVID restrictions in the future.

Public library open
This photo from July 20, 2020, shows a patron reading a book at the Alfred Dickey Public Library. The James River Valley Library System Board of Directors is considering expanding the hours and loosening coronavirus restrictions at the library at its next meeting. John M. Steiner / The Sun

The staff of Alfred Dickey Public Library is looking forward to seeing more patrons in the future, according to Joe Rector, director of the James River Valley Library System.

"We are currently in phase 2 of our reopening," he said. "Phase 3 would allow more people in the buildings and opening more computers for use."

Restrictions in place are likely to be loosened after the library system board's next meeting on April 14.

Currently, there can be no more than 25 patrons in the library at any time with each limited to 30 minutes in the building. The number of computers open for use has been reduced to allow for social distancing between devices. Other requirements include social distancing in the checkout line, only hard chairs are available, and no more than one patron can be seated at a table at a time.


Patrons with a cough or other visible symptoms may be asked to leave the library and hand sanitizer is available at locations throughout the library. Staff and patrons are asked to wear masks while in the library. The library has also added clear plastic shields to prevent contact between the library staff and the public.

"We've missed our patrons but we've been buying a lot of super materials recently," Rector said. "Pretty much whatever you are interested in, we have it."

New items include books, music CDs, movies and other entertaining and informative items, he said.

Prior to COVID-19, the Alfred Dickey Library saw about 7,500 patrons each month. With the current restrictions in place, and people remaining cautious, the number of patrons visiting the library has been about 3,000 people, Rector said.

"We have had quite a sharp reduction," he said.

The library is continuing its popular Jamestown Seed Library. People are able to "check out" garden seeds for no charge at the Stutsman County branch of the library system. Hours there are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.

And Rector hopes the full line of public programming returns either this summer or next fall.

"It all depends on the COVID situation," he said.


Rector said the past year has been a learning experience for the library staff that they hope they do not have to repeat.

"We are still aways away from normal," he said. "We're going to get back to the new normal as soon as possible."

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