Library approves new pandemic response plan

The Decorah Public Library Board of Trustees approved a revised pandemic response plan at a special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Under this plan, the Library’s phased reopening will be determined by specific COVID-19 benchmarks in Winneshiek County. The new plan was adapted from plans developed by public libraries in Iowa City and Waterloo and will connect available services to the ebb and flow of local case rates.“

Because the building was closed for construction, we had not substantially refreshed our pandemic response plan since April. Since that time, more detailed information has become available as our colleagues across Iowa have taken the lead in crafting detailed, responsive plans rooted in the most up-to-date science around covid in the library environment. Now that building renovations are wrapping up, it is time to update our own plan with current data and benchmarks, and make sure it is aligned with best practices in the field, before welcoming patrons back into the building” explained Board President Andrea Beckendorf.

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“This phased approach will empower library staff to quickly pivot to new phases of service. It also provides the public with a clear explanation of what they can expect from the library based on current conditions,” Beckendorf continued.

Library leadership will use 14-day percent positivity rates from the website to determine which phase of the plan the library wil adopt.

? When rates are above 10%, the library is in the Red Zone and the building will be closed to the public. Curbside pickup, book bundles, and other distanced services are available to the public.

? When rates are between 5 and 10%, the library is in the Yellow Zone and the building will be open for limited access to computer services only. All services in the Red Zone will continue.

? When rates are under 5%, the library is in the Green Zone and the building will be open for limited browsing. All services in the Yellow and Red Zones will continue.

? When vaccines are freely available to everyone, the library will move into the Rainbow Zone and resume normal, pre-pandemic operations.

When a benchmarked percentage is reached, the Library Director will begin the process of moving the library into a new phase of service. Once internal readiness is achieved, the library will implement and publicize the change.

“As library professionals, we pride ourselves on seeking out quality sources of information; it was important to us that the pandemic response plan be based on sound data and advice from other libraries and public health professionals,” Library Director Kristin Torresdal shared. “We know that we’re a critical resource for many, and also that we need to balance access with the safety of our community. This plan provides the flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing environment, while tying changes to a set of clearly identifiable benchmarks that will determine our path going forward.”

Visit the library’s website and social media pages for the most up-to-date information on what phase the library has adoptand what services are currently available, or call 563-382-3717.

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