After more than a year of closures, the Los Angeles County Library announced that 30 of its 85 libraries will reopen for in-person service on Monday, April 19.
Libraries were cleared to re-open at 50 percent capacity after the County’s entrance into the orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. In addition to the capacity limit, patrons will be required to wear masks and maintain six feet of social distance from each other.
Culver City’s Julian Dixon Library at 4975 Overland Ave. is part of the first phase of reopening to occur on April 19. Michael Laase, president of the Culver City Friends of the Library, is excited about the library’s reopening but does caution that patrons will encounter changes to the library’s operation.
For one thing, Laase said that capacity will be limited to approximately 45 people but wasn’t sure if that number included library staff.
Other changes include use of the libraries’ amenities such as computers.
“Anyone who wants to use the computers will get to use the computers but only for an hour at a time,” Laase said. “They can be checked out like other items in the library. If they want to use the computers after that limit, patrons have to either come back or put their name on a list to check them out again. The library doesn’t want people lingering.”
In terms of people coming into do homework, or search for books or information in the stacks, Laase said those areas will be open but there may be a limit in place as to how long a patron can physically stay in the library because she said they want to give other people a chance to come in which means that patrons may be required to wait outside while others are transacting their business inside the library.
As for protocols, patrons will be required to wear a mask and social distancing will be encouraged by limiting the amount of chairs to a table. So for example, a table that accommodates four people will have only enough chairs to seat two people.
For those uncomfortable with going to the library in person, curbside pickup will continue to be offered.
Although the Julian Dixon Library has been closed for more than a year, that doesn’t mean that they discontinued operations.
In addition to curbside pickup, the library opened a small satellite pickup and dropoff hut at Lindberg Park when the library had to close in November for three months while the air filtration system was being upgraded.
“They were accepting book returns and getting books and bringing them to the hut and letting people check them out and letting people know they had their pickups ready,” Laase said. “The library did that for about three months until they were able to move back into the actual library. They were checking out books right and left.”
Unlike other businesses that were forced to lay off its staff during the pandemic, the Julian Dixon Library continued to employ its staff by having them do data processing for the county’s COVID numbers as well as other projects given to them by the county.
To accommodate the large number of parents, children, and seniors who, pre-pandemic, incorporated the library into their daily lives, Julian Dixon began hosting virtual storytelling for the kids as well as virtual arts and crafts for seniors and teenagers.
“A lot of people told me that they were so appreciative of the library and being able to check out movies and music and books and things like that,” Laase said. “There was one young family that told us that this was a big outing for them. They would get the kids dressed, they would have breakfast, put on their masks and they would walk to the library and they’d do their pickups. The kids were excited to get out and do something like that. The library has really stepped up and been a godsend to everyone in the community.”
Currently, Laase and other members of the Friends of the Library are restricted from continuing their pre-pandemic activity of the volunteer Monday knitting class.
I’m still very excited about the reopening but I do know that the Friends of the Library are not able to go in and be volunteers at this time,” Laase said. “They’re holding off on the volunteers so we’re like everyone else. If we need to go in and use the library or check out books we can do that but we’re not allowed to do things like the Monday knitting. That’s somewhere in the future.”
For now the COVID protocols will be in place such as masks and social distancing and the staff is getting vaccinated but will still be required mask up and social distance even after getting vaccinated.
The Los Angeles County Library’s reopening is part of a larger phased reopening plan based on geographic location, building availability, and the ability to accommodate social distancing guidelines and public health protocols. As part of the reopening plans, Los Angeles County libraries have placed special emphasis on reopening libraries in underserved areas where in-person services are more crucial.
The first phase of the Library’s reopening will begin on April 19. Participating libraries include:
- Angelo M Iacoboni
- Quartz Hill
- Huntington Park
- Claremont Helen Renwick
- La Crescenta
- Rowland Heights
- Clifton M. Brakensiek
- San Fernando
- South Whittier
- Culver City Julian Dixon
- Leland R. Weaver
- Stevenson Ranch
- Diamond Bar
- View Park Bebe Moore Campbell
- West Covina
- East Los Angeles
- Manhattan Beach
- West Hollywood
- El Monte
Beginning in early summer 2021, a limited number of select libraries will implement outdoor programming with a schedule of upcoming events to be added to the library’s website and disseminated to library newsletter subscribers.
For more information, county residents are encouraged to visit www.LACountyLibrary.org for library hours, services, additional openings, safety protocols, and scheduled events and programs.
For those with concerns about participating in in-person library service, sidewalk service and bookdrops will continue to be available at all participating libraries.
To contact the Dixon Library, call 310-559-1676.