Great Falls library to require masks in building

Beginning July 7, the Great Falls Public Library will require patrons to wears masks to enter the building. Masks will be provided by the library, free of charge, to anyone who needs one. Children under the age of 12 will be exempt from the requirement. Library policy is that children are to be accompanied by a responsible person over the age of 12 who can maintain social distancing measures.

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“This is not undertaken lightly, we understand that some people are not comfortable with mask-wearing. We want to be able to stay open and serve our patrons, but with the rise in Covid-19 cases across the state, we cannot continue to do that safely without requiring masks,” Susie McIntyre, library director said in a release. “Thousands of people rely on the services we provide. We are doing everything we can to be good stewards of the trust and funding we receive from our community. The health and safety of our staff and patrons is paramount. Masks are our best defense.”

The library has been open to the public 25 hours per week since May 19. In that time, thousands of patrons have come into the building for access to computers, wifi, printing and information services, as well as to check out reading material, according to a library release.

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Over the first two weeks that the library was open again, May 19-May 31, which equated to 10 days for a total of 50 hours, there were 3,251 walk-in patrons to the building.

“Those numbers are only increasing as the news spreads that the library is open, and as people need assistance with everything that was put on hold during the state’s stay-at-home order,” according to a library release.

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All library staff have been required to wear masks since the reopening and rigorous cleaning protocols are in place. Sanitizing of common areas is completed multiple times per day and library materials are quarantined for 72 hours after use, according to the library release. Hand sanitizer is available in all areas of the library.

“These steps help to keep the library a Cascade City-County Health Department Certified Prevention Partner, but require a redistribution of staff time, resulting in reduced hours of operation,” according to the library release.

The library continues to offer internet and computer access, notary, printing, and reference services.¬†Curbside pick-up of items is available every Monday. Patrons can place a hold over the phone or online through the library’s website, and arrange a time to drive through and pick up their items. Returns can be placed in the library’s outdoor drop boxes. Patrons who are uncomfortable or unable to wear masks are encouraged to utilize the many services the library offers remotely, as well as curbside pick-up.

The library is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., with special vulnerable population hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

For questions or more information, call the library at 406-453-0349 (Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or email questions@greatfallslibrary.org.

You can also find the library on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.