COVID-19: Health & Safety Information

In light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, Yakima Valley Libraries is operating under Stage Five; Step 3 of our Health & Safety Action Plan, and have implemented the following:


COMMUNITY LIBRARIES

  • Contact-Free Holds Pick Up is available at your Community Library.
  • All library locations will be closed to the public until further notice.
  • Book returns will remain accessible to patrons during the closure.

FINES AND FEES, DUE DATES, HOLDS, AND ILLS

  • FINES & FEES: Overdue fees will not be charged for items checked out before the closure. Be sure to follow due dates to avoid late charges on items checked out beginning 8/17/2020.
  • DUE DATES: Due dates for library materials were checked out before the library closed are extended to 9/30/2020. New Items checked out beginning 8/17/2020 will follow the regular due date schedule.
  • HOLDS: Patrons can place new holds using the Library Catalog online or by contacting their community library by phone.
  • INTERLIBRARY LOANS:  ILL services are suspended during the temporary closure.

CONTACTING US


For more information about the COVID-19 outbreak, including symptoms and how to protect yourself, see the drop-down menu below.

What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. 


What can I do to protect myself and/or my family?

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the CDC there are many steps we can all take to protect ourselves and others, such as:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Putting distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
  • Staying home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.

Where can I find more information?

For the most accurate and reliable information, please visit any of the following websites:


For more specific information about symptoms and preparedness planning:

  • Click here to learn about COVID-19 symptoms
  • Click here to learn about COVID-19 and older adults and/or those with medical conditions
  • Click here for info & tips about how to prepare your family if COVID-19 is actively spreading in your community
  • Click here for tips about managing COVID-19 related anxiety or stress

HEALTH & SAFETY PLAN

Effective March 13, 2020

In light of the current, and rapidly evolving coronavirus outbreak, Yakima Valley Libraries has established a Health & Safety Plan in order to address, mitigate, and respond to this and similar situations.

The Health & Safety Plan is made up of four response Phases, all of which are meant to serve as guidelines for how Yakima Valley Libraries will address potential or active public health and/or safety concerns.

CURRENT STAGE: FIVE – YVL Reopening Plan (as of 8/10/20)


Stage One – Preparation & Education

In the event of relevant public health or safety issues affecting the YVL service area, the Library Executive Director will:

  • Provide print and online informational resources for staff and the public
  • Monitor notices and announcements from local/regional health departments, public safety departments, and government officials
  • Encourage staff and patrons to follow safety, health, and hygiene recommendations from local and federal health agencies

 

Stage Two – Mitigation

In the event of a potential or emerging health crisis within the YVL service area, Library Executive Director will follow recommendations from local/regional health departments and/or government officials, in order to make determinations regarding:

  • Limiting or suspending library services
  • Limiting or suspending library programs/activities (i.e., storytimes, book discussions, author visits, etc)
  • Passive social distancing (i.e. reduce seating available to public, including public computers)
  • Increased sanitization and/or temporary storage of high-touch items such as children’s toys and games, ELS stations, public-use headphones, craft supplies, etc
  • Increased or augmented standards and frequency for the cleaning of bathrooms, railings and door knobs, telephones, keyboards, counters
  • A communications plan for staff and the public

In the absence of official recommendations with direct through-lines to library services, Library administration will independently make determinations, on an as-needed basis.

 

Stage Three – Active Response

In the event of an active health or safety crisis within the YVL service area, Library Executive Director will follow recommendations from local/regional health departments and/or government officials, in order to make decisions regarding:

  • Active social distancing, which includes limiting prolonged building access by the public (i.e., removal of chairs/seating; suspending all computer access)
  • Provision of masks and/or gloves, along with staff training in their removal and disposal
  • Training and standards for cleaning of workstations/offices of employees who go home sick
  • A communications plan staff and the public

In the absence of official recommendations with direct through-lines to library services, Library administration will independently make determinations, on an as-needed basis.

 

Stage Four – Critical Response

In the event of a critical health crisis within the YVL service area, Library Executive Director will follow recommendations from local/regional health departments and/or government officials, in order to make decisions regarding:

  • Criteria for closing buildings
  • Setting a facility maintenance schedule if buildings are closed for an extended time (i.e., building checks, book drop, payroll, etc)
  • Employee policies for extended sick leave due to possible quarantine; planning for payroll and banking/financial issues
  • Means for continuing to provide information services for the public, such as online ordering of materials and pick up from a table in the lobby at certain times, or expansion of online services
  • A communications plan for reaching staff and for communicating with the public

Stage Five – YVL Reopening Plan

In the event of a reduced health crisis within the YVL service area, Library Executive Director will follow recommendations from local/regional health departments and/or government officials to make decisions on:

    • Implementation of the Safety Plan
    • Staff returning to work
    • Opening library buildings to the public
    • Services to be offered
  • Libraries services: Perform duties and tasks as assigned by management according to Library services associated with Stage 5 steps (1-6).
    1. Internal work in buildings – Additional staff in the building: in preparation of next steps
    2. Additional public services with contact-free holds pick up service for currently held items
    3. New holds – contact-free holds pick up service continues with new holds
    4. Reopen designated library buildings with modified hours, contact-free holds pick up for small libraries
    5. Reopen all libraries with social distancing standards
    6. All Library buildings/services open

In the absence of official recommendations with direct through-lines to library services, Library Executive Director will independently make determinations, on an as-needed basis.

October 14, 2020

A Message from the Executive Director:

Planning for Library Services Under Phase 2 of Washington’s “Safe Start” Plan


On Oct. 13, Governor Jay Inslee announced that several counties, including Yakima County, have entered Phase 2 of Washington State’s Safe Start plan. Under revisions issued by the Governor’s office on Oct. 6, the latest Phase 2 guidelines allow for libraries to reopen buildings to the public at a limited capacity equal to 25 percent of each building’s maximum occupancy.

While this is a long-awaited development, at this time Yakima Valley Libraries does not have a set date or timeline for when community libraries will re-open, or a specific plan for what in-person services will look like.

Because the provisions allowing for public access to library buildings was originally included in Phase 3 of the state’s Safe Start plan, Library administration and managers are now working to determine how and when we can safely re-open buildings in Phase 2, while also safeguarding the health and safety of our staff and patrons.

Our patrons can expect updates and more detailed information in the coming weeks.

What we do know at this point is that, based on state-issued requirements, before re-opening any community library buildings, Yakima Valley Libraries must:

  • Develop an updated COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation, and recovery plan
  • Require patrons and staff to wear a cloth face covering at all times while in our facilities
  • Limit the number of patrons to 25 percent of maximum building occupancy, as determined by fire code

For an overview of the requirements to which the Library must adhere, please see: Phase 2 and 3 Library Services: COVID-19 Requirements.

In the meantime, we will continue to provide Contact-Free Holds Pick Up as we work to develop a plan for in-person library services under Phase 2 guidelines.

If you have questions, please direct them to our online contact form (www.yvl.org/contact/), or call your preferred community library.

As always, thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these ever-changing times together.

Sincerely,

Kim Hixson

Executive Director

COVID-19 & Library Services: An Update from the Executive Director

June 29, 2020


In the time since Yakima Valley Libraries temporarily closed our doors in alignment with the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order, library administration and managers have been working on plans for safely providing library services once we are allowed to do so.

While we cannot provide an exact date by which the Library District will be able to resume limited or full services, we understand that many of our patrons have questions about what comes next.

We appreciate your questions—they are a clear indication that you value the library and the services we provide. The following items are answers to some of the most common questions we have received from patrons since closing the public.

It is our hope that sharing them here will provide additional clarity regarding why the Library District temporarily closed and when we’ll be able to re-open.


 

Why did the Library close to the public?

Based on Governor Inslee’s Stay-at-Home order, we closed temporarily to the public effective Tuesday, March 17 in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and to ensure the health and safety of our staff and our patrons.

Why can’t the Library at least provide curbside services?

Just like schools, businesses, and churches, all public libraries throughout Washington are required to adhere to the guidelines laid out in the State’s Phased Reopening Plan. Under those guidelines, we are not allowed to provide curbside library services until Yakima County enters Phase II of the Phased Re-opening Plan.

For more information about the State’s Phased Reopening Plan, please see: https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/SafeStartPhasedReopening.pdf

What library services will be available when the County enters Phase II?

Based on the State’s Phased Reopening Plan, once we enter Phase II, YVL will only be allowed to provide limited services via curbside pick-up.This service will allow patrons to request materials online or by phone, and schedule a time to pick those items up curbside at their preferred community library.

Please note: Under state requirements, our buildings will remain closed to the public during Phase II.

How do you plan to clean and sanitize library materials?

Once we are allowed to provide curbside pick-up, YVL will follow State-issued guidelines that outline health and safety protocols. Those guidelines include, but are not limited to the following: 1) regular sanitization of staff work surfaces and areas; 2) 72-hour quarantine of returned library materials; 3) use of PPE by library staff; 3) no-contact procedures for curbside services

A more comprehensive overview of this information will be available once the County enters Phase II and the Library is able to begin providing curbside service.


Please know that we miss you, and are looking forward to resuming library operations, even on a modified basis, as soon as the current situation allows.

We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time, and wish everyone good health.

Until we meet again,

Kim Hixson

Executive Director

Yakima, WA – After careful consideration, and in light of recommendations by state and federal health officials regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, Yakima Valley Libraries will close all library locations to the public effective Monday, March 16 at 6pm.

It is anticipated that the library district will remain closed to the public through Friday, April 24.

According to executive director, Kim Hixson, “This difficult, but necessary, decision was made after consultation with the Library’s Board of Trustees, and is in alignment with the state-wide Executive Order issued by Governor Inslee, which calls for the closure of all K-12 schools.”

Hixson added, “While I deeply regret the necessity to limit the public’s access to our buildings, technology, and physical materials, it is our responsibility to help protect the health and well-being of our patrons.”

During the closure, library staff will still report to work, though some staff may be temporarily re-scheduled or re-assigned to different library locations, in order to assist with various projects and tasks.

Patrons who have library materials checked out can rest assured that due dates for any library items currently checked out will be extended by 28 days, and any fines or fees that accrue during the closure will be waived.

In addition, although library buildings will be inaccessible to patrons, Yakima Valley Libraries offers a robust collection of online resources, which the public will still be able to access from home or on the go, using a computer, tablet or mobile device.

Library staff are already working to add additional e-materials to the collection, and patrons are encouraged to utilize these digital resources, which include e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming video, and digital magazines.

Those materials can be found on the library website, here: www.yvl.org/e-materials.

In the coming days and weeks, additional updates and information will be available on the Library’s website (www.yvl.org), but patrons who have questions are encouraged to email the Library using the Contact Us form, here: www.yvl.org/how-do-i/contact-us.

Or patrons can call one of these three library locations, with the understanding that response times will likely be much slower than usual:

  • Yakima Central Library: (509) 452-8541
  • Sunnyside Community Library: (509) 837-3234
  • West Valley Community Library: (509) 966-7070

Finally, Yakima Valley Libraries would like the public to know that we are diligently working to ensure that this process unfolds with the least amount of disruption as possible.

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March 12, 2020

A Message from the Executive Director

As many of you know, Washington State is currently experiencing an outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including confirmed cases in Yakima County.

In light of the outbreak, Yakima Valley Libraries is proactively taking measures to ensure the health and well-being of our patrons and employees, both at home and within our community libraries.

Here is what you need to know about YVL’s response to the novel coronavirus:

  • Community Libraries: All Yakima Valley Libraries locations are currently open and operating as normal.
  • Outreach Services: Out of an abundance of caution, and effective immediately, our Outreach Services Department (OS), which serves homebound patrons and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, has suspended all services until further notice.

In the event of additional coronavirus-related changes to library services or operations, patrons can expect to be notified via our website (www.yvl.org), local media outlets, and our social media page.

But please rest assured that we are already evaluating and adjusting some of our procedures in light of coronavirus concerns.

In the short-term, library staff are taking steps to more frequently clean and sanitize surfaces throughout our buildings (such as touch-screens, computer keyboards, and door handles); these efforts are in addition to regular cleaning performed by our public service and janitorial staff.

In addition, we are closely monitoring updates released by the Yakima Health District, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As we work toward maintaining hygienic public spaces, we are also encouraging the greater Yakima Valley community to work together to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the CDC there are many steps we can all take to protect ourselves and others, such as:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Putting distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
  • Staying home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.

There is still much uncertainty with regard to the coronavirus outbreak and we understand that many of you may have questions or concerns.

For the most accurate and reliable information, please visit any of the following websites:

Finally, please know that Yakima Valley Libraries remains committed to our mission to serve the community to the best of our ability; and, as a reminder, YVL offers a variety of online resources that you can access from your desktop, tablet or mobile device, such as e-books, digital magazines, and streaming video.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this evolving situation together.

Sincerely,

Kim Hixson, Executive Director

Yakima Valley Libraries

 

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