Lincoln’s library and book room’s COVID-19 safety protocols

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Isabella Hartman

Tucker Bowerfind and Tsuquindaro Enyart study in the library. Librarian Lori Lieberman has made adjustments to how students use the library by having them sign in and wear their masks.

Camilla Correani and Isabella Hartman

Lincoln’s library and book room are two of the many places that have modified their way of supporting students during the pandemic. The librarian, Lori Lieberman, and the book room clerk, Pam Royal have figured out ways to keep their visitors safe while continuing to stay connected with the Lincoln community. 

In the book room, where students check out required texts, Royal has adapted to COVID-19. Before the pandemic, parents often volunteered to help organize, but because of maximum room capacities and social distancing, Royal no longer works with volunteers. On days she sees many classes, she tries to double mask and also takes precautions with the books themselves. 

“I wipe off [all the books that come in] with alcohol and let them dry,” Royal said. 

In the library, Lieberman has been enjoying the return of students and interacting with readers she hasn’t seen for two years. During virtual learning, students missed going to the library, and Lieberman had been anticipating the day students could fill the space again. 

“I think that kids are really starved to be in the library, so I’ve been seeing lots of students. It was hard at the peak of COVID because the only way I saw students was either online or when I delivered books to their houses,” Lieberman said. 

Students like senior Gabby Shaffer, who spends her fifth period in the library as a teacher’s assistant, said she feels comfortable, even during COVID.

“I feel pretty safe. There are multiple filters…and all the windows are open most of the time, so I feel pretty good,” she said.

Senior Charlie Matthews also enjoys the welcoming environment of the library.

“I love that [Lieberman] gives me candy every day, and there are so many great books to choose from and read. The atmosphere of the library is just so welcoming and [Lieberman] is always so wonderful and nice to me,” Matthews said.

Lieberman, along with library assistant Anita Agudelo, wipe down the tables regularly, enforce social distancing and continually remind students to wear their masks.

“I feel like, at this point in the pandemic, people should know how to have masks that fit over their nose. I get a little bit tired and frustrated of reminding students to keep their masks up,” Lieberman said. “I think the students at Lincoln know how important wearing masks are as a practice. They know that, but I think sometimes they get a little sloppy or lazy.”

Another way the library staff keeps Lincoln students safe is by limiting the number of people in the library. The maximum number of visitors permitted in the library at a time is 83 people.

Visitors are also required to sign in. If someone is planning on staying for more than 15 minutes, even after school, signing in is a requirement for contact tracing.

The protocols for checking out books have also evolved. The Oregon Library Association has specific guidelines that they recommend libraries follow. At the beginning of the pandemic, the guidelines were strict about wiping down and sanitizing books. As more research about COVID-19 came out, it was discovered that surface contact wasn’t the predominant way the virus was transmitted. Therefore, the guidelines about bringing books home went back to normal. 

“We don’t quarantine books and students don’t have to wipe them down,” Lieberman said.

She elaborates on how COVID-19 has changed the social aspects of the library.

“I miss the trivia lunches; those were very fun. There was always a really strong sense of community,” Lieberman said. “You’d see some loner freshmen come [into the library] and a team of seniors would say, ‘Come join our team,’ and that would always be really nice to see.” 

Lieberman says that something positive that came out of a year online was the possibility of arranging virtual author visits for reading enthusiasts. 

“Because of COVID, we’ve been able to have virtual author events. Authors have been really interested in meeting with our students, and we were able to [host a] virtual event with Casey McQuiston (author of “Red, White and Royal Blue”)” said Lieberman. “It was really huge because they are a New York Times bestselling author.”

One thing COVID-19 hasn’t affected is students’ love for the library and its community. 

“It’s just a really fun environment, and I feel very productive in [the library],” Shaffer said.

Students aren’t going to forget the times they spent in Lincoln’s library, even if it’s tainted with memories of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I love the library,” Matthews said. “I love [Lieberman] and I’m going to miss her so much next year.”

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