Vernon Area Public Library enacts COVID-19 rules for employees

  • In this recent photo, Stephen Territo, the head of library operations at the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire, prepares bins of paper bags that will be used during curbside checkouts starting June 23. The library board has enacted special workplace rules to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading among employees.

    In this recent photo, Stephen Territo, the head of library operations at the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire, prepares bins of paper bags that will be used during curbside checkouts starting June 23. The library board has enacted special workplace rules to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading among employees. Courtesy of Vernon Area Public Library

 
 
Updated 6/16/2020 9:06 PM

With more employees returning to Lincolnshire's Vernon Area Public Library to handle returns, curbside checkouts and other duties, special workplace rules have been enacted to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading among them.

Starting immediately, employees must wash or sanitize their hands and don personal protective equipment upon arrival at the library. Face-to-face conversations and group gatherings are discouraged, and work shifts will be shorter than usual to minimize potential exposure to the virus.

 

These and other rules are spelled out in a 19-page policy manual adopted by the library board Monday night. The board meeting was held remotely because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Like most libraries in the Chicago area, Vernon Area has been closed to patrons since mid-March because of the pandemic. Officials crafted the rules to assure employees and the public that the return to the building "has been handled professionally and thoughtfully," spokeswoman Catherine Savage said.

The rules apply to the main building and the annex behind it.

A small number of employees have been working at the building during its closure to handle maintenance and technology issues and critical business functions, Savage said.

Additional maintenance workers returned to the library June 2 to make COVID-related safety changes, such as installing directional markers on the carpet and clearing barriers at some employees' desks.

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Still more employees returned to the building starting Monday to begin unpacking and processing book deliveries and checking in materials that have been returned since that service began last week. They're also preparing for curbside checkout service, which will begin June 23.

Officials haven't decided when the library building will reopen to the public.

The rules in the manual cover a variety of workplace scenarios.

For example, rather than face-to-face meetings, the manual encourages employees to use the telephone, online conferencing, email or instant messaging, to conduct business, even with people in the building. If a face-to-face meeting is unavoidable, employees should minimize its duration, meet in a large room, sit at least six feet apart and avoid shaking hands or other person-to-person contact, the manual states.

And with shorter work shifts being scheduled, employees won't have meal breaks or be allowed to congregate in the staff lounge, use the library's coffee maker or vending machines.

About half the library's employees will continue working remotely, Savage said, but that's expected to change as the state moves through Gov. J.B. Pritzker's reopening plan.

The library's progress will lag behind the state's by at least two weeks so officials can monitor what's happening elsewhere, including any infection spikes, Savage said.

For updates on patron services at Vernon Area, visit vapld.info/service-updates.html.

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